Due to my extremely strong will and my vast expertise in the ways of naughtiness growing up, I got a lot of spankings, and for some reason I got two or three times more spankings than any of my nine siblings. In retrospect, I bet the last six kids never made it to the receiving end of a single half-solid swat… not necessarily because my parents didn’t want to spank them, but because by the late eighties, they were left with nubs for hands from all of the corporal punishment that I was constantly being dished.
I’m sure my parents are probably both rolling their eyes right now, knowing that they probably only ever spanked me five or six hundred times, even though my imperfect little kid memory says it was at least four or five times daily.
Noah, he’s a different cat when it comes to the need for punishment. Sure, he has his naughty moments, but Daddy believes in the warning system, and Noah almost never needs more than one warning to stop a bad behavior. I was just thinking the other day how Noah hasn’t needed one time-out (we call them uh-ohs at our house) in well over a month. He helps when I ask him to help, he goes to bed when I say it’s bedtime. He eats when I say it’s time to eat. He keeps his bedroom clean. He has even stopped beating up on the dog, one of the only warning-free time out behaviors he has had a problem mastering.
But, he’s not perfect. Even the best of kids can have their out of control crazy “moments.” And Noah had a doozy about ten months ago when we were staying at a condo on vacation in Southern California.
We had spent the day at the beach and the group had half-dragged ourselves crispy and worn-out back to the rental at which we were staying. Noah was completely caked in all sorts of sand and sea crap, so I told him to run in for a quick bath. The problem was, he had been promised pizza, and there was no convincing him that the bath would be over and done way before the pizza got there. His stubborness and crying got worse and worse and then became something beyond the definition of tantrum. Something so horrible that there isn’t a word in the English language for it. Just know that it was bad. And he was completely out of control.
I put him in the tub and warned him. “Noah, if you don’t settle down before I count to three, you’re going to get an uh-oh.” He continued his rampage. I then attempted the timeout which only caused the out-of-control toddler to slip deeper into his rabies-like insanity. “Noah, if you don’t calm down, you’re going to get a spanking.” He had never had one before, but he knew very well what they were.
He kept going, and so Dad grabbed his arm and pulled him erect. He flailed out of control to try and avoid the inevitable slap on his bare bottom, but I was determined to follow through, and managed to give him a little smack dead center of his left cheek (so soft, in fact, it probably wouldn’t have killed a mosquito). Instantly, the commotion died, and the whole room went silent. My grip went loose and he quickly and quietly slumped out of my reach, defeated.
Noah sat in the (ever-coldening) bathwater, and looked at me. His eyes got big. Bigger than I’d ever seen them. Enormous crocodile tears started to surface. His little voice cracked, and he barely got out the words, “Daddy, why’d you hit me?” The look of betrayal in his eyes was more than I could bare.
I panicked and scooped him out of the tub and hugged him close, rubbing the site of the assault. “I’m sorry buddy, I slipped, I didn’t mean to. It was an accident. Daddy would never hit you.”
It was an accident?” he asked. “Yeah”.
That’s right. I totally wimped out, and I knew it. Laugh it up, folks. He learned nothing except that Dad is a giant pansy when it comes to that kind of thing. Oh well. At least he calmed down and took his bath so that we could all enjoy some pizza.
Dan Pearce, Single Dad Laughing
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