Yes, I’m stuck on childhood memories lately. I had someone recently share about their family’s discipline practices some decades ago. It was similar to my own. We both endured the “pick-your-own-switch” order.
It was a day and age when spanking was not frowned-upon—not even given a second thought as to whether it might be wrong. I don’t think I was harmed one bit by my mama’s discipline habits. I admit that there are those of us who probably should not spank their kids because of anger problems, but that was not an issue in my home.
My mother would, indeed, use a switch on us, and I recall that the little, skinny ones were the worst—they’d wrap around our legs, making us dance. Sometimes, there’d be one handy on the top of the refrigerator. She’s also gotten after us with the fly swatter (which I hated because I imagined those little fly legs coming off on my own) and, let’s not forget the handy paddles provided by those paddle-ball toys.
Having said that, please don’t get the impression that she beat us daily. No, if anything, she was pretty lax, but we’d push the envelope sometimes and have to be brought back down to size. And, it was usually Mom who did the spanking, probably because Dad was at work all day.
One time she got the switch after me, and I took off like greased lightning, smug in my knowledge that there was no way she could catch me. She chased for a minute and then, to my amazement, turned and went back into the house. Wow! She gave up easily!! I remember vividly how my glee at having won turned to dread as I it dawned on me that I would have to return to the house at some point. I became a bit worried about what awaited me when I did return…I was right. Mom did not forget to teach me a lesson, and I never ran from her again.
In raising my own son, I believed in spanking. I had a very easy kid to raise, so spanking was not often required, but he knew I’d do it…that was usually enough. And what spankings he got were swats on the butt with my open hand. I don’t recall ever using a switch or a paddle on him, and he was terrified at the mere thought of the legendary belt—which was never used on him, either.
I recall one time when my husband had really chastised him for something serious (can’t remember. I bet he remembers, but I don’t dare ask because he’d probably hit me if he knew I was writing about this).
My husband came back from the discipline session telling me that our son had begged him to do anything—“just don’t use the belt, please!” My husband said, “I’d never use the belt on that kid—it could not be nearly as bad as he thinks it would be…the threat is plenty!”
And, we had an “out-of-the-mouths-of-babes” moment one time when I was in the car with my son—about six years old. I said to him:
“Why is it you are so quick to obey your father while it takes a bit of effort for me? Has Dad ever beaten you or something?”
And my little son turned and said, “No, Dad has never beaten me, Mom. But you know how it is with full-grown males: you never know what they might do.”
And that, folks, is the truth. C