For the first few years of my growing up, I lived with my parents and sister in a 3-bedroom flat in Festac Town. Domestic rats were an annoying feature, as they could seasonally be seen in daylight around gutters or heard running through the roof of the block.
Occasionally, they’d burrow their way into our flat, through the roof, or some tiny hole that would be plugged immediately it was found or some pipe that was unused. My dad went after them with a vengeance, but it wasn’t uncommon to wake up to see bite marks in a finger of plantain or even a cucumber that had been left out of the fridge. Daddy had a ton of weapons in his arsenal to deal with them – from rat gum, to rat traps to powders that he’d lace their favourite treats with.
It was like hitting the jackpot whenever Daddy’s traps caught a rat; and he’d swiftly dispose of them. I’ll spare you the details! On occasion, a parent rat would be caught along with their baby or babies. I recall asking my dad to spare the babies as they looked so cute and probably couldn’t hurt a fly. Of course, my father paid no attention, because he knew that baby rats are still rats and would grow up to wreak havoc just like their parents.
As an adult now, the principle is clear to me.
Deal with issues when they’re in their seed form, before they grow and before the stakes get higher.
This is especially true with character flaws – temper issues, jealousy, dishonesty, envy, etc. When these things show up particularly in a young person, a common reaction from others who serve as our mirrors -parents and friends – is to make excuses, or dismiss the actions. This is easy to do in the short-term, but in the long run, it’s going to be destructive to both the person and the people around him or her.
In my own life, as I reflect, I make an effort to deal with the seeming little things – the procrastination, the indiscipline…so that they don’t come and bite me in the foot, one day. I’m work in progress, as we all are, but owning up to the problem is the first step. Then, actively doing something about it, one step at a time. No baby rat will grow up on my watch!