So, I was having lunch with friends the other day, and the topic of “when we were kids” came up as it is wont to do with folks of a certain age. (It’s safe to say we’re all north of 60 and may occasionally shake our fists and yell, “Get off my lawn!”) Somehow, we got on the subject of discipline and kids “nowadays” versus discipline from our respective parents when we were younger. NOTE: this is NOT a treatise on the benefits or detractions of corporal punishment, but more along the lines of “if you can’t be a good example, then at least be a horrible warning, or what behavior to avoid as a teenager.” My contribution to the conversation went along the lines of this:
Up until I was 12, I was truly a rather model child. Well behaved, no back talk, never caused trouble, etc. I had a friend who would sass her mom something fierce and get away with it, while I thought, if I ever talked that way to my mom, she’d knock me into next Tuesday. It’s important to know that my mom had never actually spanked me, let alone boxed my ears, but I always knew the threat was there. Had a good, healthy balance of fear, love and respect, I did. Then a series of events at age 12 flipped on the “stupid” switch in my head and things started going downhill. Rapidly.
I came home from school one afternoon and Mom greeted me with, “You need to go clean your room.” Instead of my normal, “Yes, ma’am” followed by a good amount of grumbling as I headed up the stairs, I found myself saying—out loud, no less—“I don’t have to.”
The silence was deafening.
Mom looked at me, got “that” look on her face, and said, “What did you just say?” You all know the tone. Now, a smart child here (which I had always been right up until this very minute) would have shut up and scooted right up those stairs. But nope, dang if I didn’t double down and repeat, “I. Don’t. Have. To.” (Really? What was I thinking? It was like every lick of common sense I had ever possessed, not to mention a normally well-developed survival instinct, just evaporated right out of my head.)
Mom pointed at me, pointed at my pants, pointed at the back of the wingback chair that was close by, and said, “Drop ’em and lean over the chair.” (Even though she had never spanked me, the family rule of the threat of spanking was always bare hand, bare bottom.) So, there I am, sticking my bare tushie out, hip cocked with attitude and nonchalance, and the rest of the event played out like this:
Me: “I’m too old to spank, you know.”
Mom: “The hell you are.” (A mother’s equivalent of Hold My Beer and Watch This.)
There is a relatively minor swat to the bum.
Me: “That didn’t hurt.” (Seriously? Did I just have a death wish?)
Mom: “The next one sure will.”
She winds up, and before she can take another crack at it, I pipe up with, “AY YI YI YI YI YI YI!” as loud and as high pitched as I can.
Well, that’s all it took. Mom starts laughing, I start laughing, and mom says, “You’re right, you are too old to spank.” I think all is right in the world and I’m off the hook. Until her next line: “You’re grounded for a month.”
Not only did she ground me for a month, I then had to clean the house from attic to basement and two stories in between. Of course, now I had a whole month to do it. Moral of the story: Don’t sass your mamas, kids. Just don’t do it.