Wednesday, November 17, 2004
My daddy never spared the rod (or belt), and look how I turned out
The aging, semi-hysterical retired reporter rides shotgun with the greatest station wagon driver of them all down the rocky road of life. Mondays in the paper's Extra section, steady as she goes.
By George, and all that sort of thing, the British House of Commons has voted to allow parents to jolly well spank their children.
While they were arguing this bloody mess, we are told by AOL news, one Margaret Hodge, minister for children, said:
"There is a world of difference between a light smack and violent abuse."
And, she said, a ban on spanking would "leave parents wondering if a trivial smack would land them in prison.
"A total ban on smacking could potentially criminalize most parents in this country."
Bully for you, Maggie my girl, and I should like to tell you that my grandmother was a lovely, gentle woman who wore an apron nicely and treasured what she called her "back-handed lick."
One of these licks would make you pretty sure you didn't want another one - for whatever reason. It didn't leave a mark on your body, although it generally threw you across the kitchen.
At least they talked about the punishment
If there had been a ban on spanking in the Colonies in the mid-1930s, my daddy would have gone up the river for two-to-five for malicious wounding.
After I had done things like throwing my mama's favorite cat out of an upstairs window, she would tell me to sit on the porch until Daddy came home.
And Daddy, tired and in a bad enough mood from having painted other people's houses and trying to keep from falling off ladders all day, would come up the street looking very tired and vulnerable.
And he and my mama would huddle - kind of like NFL refs do when they want the Washington Redskins to lose a game - and I would get a pretty good going over with my daddy's belt.
It should be said here that my mama - who favored a willow switch for punishment - didn't whip me very often, the reason being that willow switches drew blood.
And she cried a lot more than I did on such occasions.
Whippings didn't cause end to bad behavior
This exercise in discipline in my daddy's case was kind of like a bullfight with Little Junior here as the bull.
Daddy would take off his belt like a matador drawing his sword and whip me pretty good while I screamed and writhed about, pitiably, on the floor.
These screams, as everybody knew, were about 90 percent acting and 10 percent mild injury. And I knew a thing or two about rolling around pitiably on the floor.
They might have put my daddy in jail for child abuse, but my mama's favorite cat was happy.
I have to say here that, far from running down the street to the police station to report my own father, I became a rather angelic member of the family after the belt was back in its loops.
That is, until the next time I threw the cat out of an upstairs window.