Thursday, September 25, 2008

Spare the rod, Spoil the child?

This weekend, I was pretty sick with asthma and allergies. Lemme tell you, people, nothing is scarier than not being able to breathe. It is really not a game. That's some frightening shit. Anyway, needless to say, I wasn't up for much stimulation this weekend, so I took it really easy. MBF and I decided to hang out with my mom. He met my mom and I at our church because the Usher Board was having a cookout and the food was off the chain! There were barbequed ribs, chicken, fried fish, baked beans, potato salad, cakes, cookies, pies & ice cream. Good gracious! This is why I LOVE being a Baptist! You will never go hungry at a Baptist church. Lol!

Then, we decided to go to Starbucks and drink coffee and people-watch. People-watching is one of my absolute favorite things to do, so I was pretty much in Seventh Heaven (why do people say Seventh Heaven? That means there has to be at least six other Heavens out there! Weird...) drinking iced tea, hanging with two of my favorite people, and providing a running commentary of everyone who walked by. So, after a while, this White man (I promise that the fact that he's White is relevant to this story) and his child start walking toward us. All of a sudden, the child drops to his knees and refuses to get up. His father, clearly confused about what to do next proceeds to drag the child along the sidewalk. When he gets to us, he stops, and asks the child why he won't get off the ground.
"I'm tired!" the child snaps. "How much longer do we have to go?!"

The father stops and tries to reason with the kid, but he is inconsolable and unreasonable, so the father resorts to dragging him down the remainder of the sidewalk. The father seemed embarrassed, but not embarrassed enough. Like, I think that maybe this wasn't an isolated incident of dragging the child through the street.

I looked at MBF and said, "If that was my child, there would be no reasoning. There would be a butt-beating (or at least the threat of a spanking... I'm a big softie & probably wouldn't go through with it) and that would be the end. But when a child is being unreasonable and is behaving like a heathen he/she will be treated as such.

MBF said, “There wouldn’t be any reasoning because my child would never DO something like that!”


Now, I fully understand that MBF and I can talk all day about the way people discipline because neither of us has any children. So, I’m sure that it’s much easier said than done, but it seems as though the answer is so simple. Put the fear into your kids and get the results you want.

My mother’s entire immediate family lives within 15 minutes of each other. I have five cousins – three boys and two girls – and we’re all around the same age. We were raised as more than cousins… we were like brothers and sisters. My two cousins D and E were closest to me in age and their mother and my mother are sisters. Because our moms are very close, we spent A LOT of time together when we were growing up. Our mothers used to take us shopping at the mall almost every weekend.

We had a routine. My mother would drive me to my aunt’s house. We’d get inside and I’d play with my cousins while our mothers talked. Then, they’d call us downstairs and make us use the bathroom in preparation for the “long trip” (in reality it was probably more like a 20 minute trip, but it seemed like a long-distance road trip). Then, just as we were about to step out of the door, they’d look at us and say in a very stern voice, “If you embarrass me in this mall, you are going to be in big trouble.” We’d get in the car and make our way to the mall and then they’d repeat the warning, “Don’t embarrass us in this mall… or else!” Well, the combination of the tone of voice and the menacing look was enough to keep me in line. I never once got in trouble while at the mall… or anywhere else for that matter.

Well, except for one incident.

For this story, I must go into the third-person. When Brown Girl was four, she was at her grandparents’ home with all of her cousins, aunts, uncles, and a few guests that her grandparents were entertaining. Brown Girl’s mama used to always pride herself on the fact that Brown Girl was not one of the grandchildren most likely to show-off in front of company. In fact, Brown Girl was generally shy and spent most of the time in her cousins’ shadow. On this particular evening, Brown Girl went downstairs to the basement, saw a can of Arrid deodorant on the couch, opened the can, and ate some of the deodorant. She is not sure why she did it, although she vaguely recalls that it had something to do with her newfound acquaintance with the concept of shock-value. And, boy, were the innocent bystanders shocked… and disgusted… to say the least. Brown Girl’s older brother, who was about 12 years old at the time, ran upstairs to snitch on Brown Girl to their mother. Brown Girl’s mama, stopped her grown up conversation, got out of her chair, came downstairs to the couch where Brown Girl stood eating deodorant, and – for the first and last time – tore Brown Girl’s legs up. Mama had always threatened Brown Girl with “do not to make me get up out of my chair… or else”. Brown Girl had never been sure of what the “or else” consisted of, but that evening, Brown Girl found out. Brown Girl’s brother, who had never seen their mother angry enough to lash out at anyone, began to cry hysterically (don’t tell him that I told you this) because he was so afraid.

[end third-person]

I never received another spanking in my life, although there were a handful of times when I probably deserved one. I don’t remember the details of that deodorant-eating day, but I vaguely recall a negative encounter with my mother that day. Honestly, I remember eating the deodorant, but not the spanking. I’m not sure what that means… maybe it means that I was more impressed by my own rebellion than the punishment that I received as a result of it, or maybe it means that I blocked out that negative experience, maybe it means that the spanking wasn’t as significant as my brother and mother like to recall, or maybe it just means that I’m getting old and don’t have the mental capacity to recall things that happened that long ago. Whatever the case, it’s more of a funny story than a traumatic event.

But I know one thing, whenever my mother looked at me sideways, I recalled the fact that she had spanked me before and she just might actually spank me again, and that was enough to keep me in line… So, maybe if that man had given his child one good lick, he would’ve been able to shoot the kid a look and make him think twice about crawling on the damn ground in front of hundreds of people.

(I know I’ll hear a bunch of objections and complaints regarding my idea of rearing a child, but I plenty of folks have been spanked and still turn out to be normal and functional human beings. So, if you happen to disagree with my methodology, then make some suggestions for better ways to handle out of control kids. Please… I welcome your suggestions.)


Tough Love said...

I agree with Brown Girl completely. Spare the rod, spoil the child . . . the concept goes back to The Bible. My parents spanked us when we deserved it. And we turned out well. We knew better than to misbehave in public, we did well in school, we respected our parents, and still do. We weren't spanked often, but when we asked for it by mouthing off or doing something we knew better than to do, or for lying (we always had the option to 'just tell the truth' or to lie and get spanked, yet we still often lied, hence we got spanked), we definitely go it, so that we thought twice about acting up again. I'm raised by immigrant parents, and where they grew up, children obey and respect their parents and don't dare embarass them. We were born and raised here, but by the same standards. And I do think we turned out well. My children will be fortunate if I'm half as good a parents as mine were. I don't want to be a parent who 'beats' their children, but if a spanking is called for, I won't hesitate, for the good of my child. It is the parents' duty to raise their children right. To each their own, of course, but I for one agree that you spoil the child when you spare the rod.

no strings attached said...

Spank those kids!!! READ THE BIBLE!