I’ve decided to share my latest book (The All-Important, Well-Fed, Giant White Man) with my followers here, free of charge, one chapter at a time. So… Where were we on this read-along… Oh, yes…
Chapter 29: My First (and Last) Attempt to Spank My Kid
Back in the 80s, there was a popular game people played at the beach called Smashball. I don’t know how the game worked. I only know that when you purchased a Smashball set, it came with two giant wooden paddles and a small blue rubber ball.
In large blue letters across each paddle was the word Smashball. I remember those paddles well. Yellow plastic handles, pine finish, not really smooth, yet not really rough, and just the right amount of surface area to cover a kid’s entire backside.
As far as I know, Mom and Dad never actually played Smashball with those paddles. They kept one paddle on the dark hardwood dresser in their bedroom, and another on the kitchen counter, wedged between the toaster and the fridge. Whenever we did something wrong, they sent us off to fetch whichever paddle was closer. Whenever we did something really wrong, they sent us to fetch the further paddle so that we had more time to anxiously anticipate the walloping reprimand to come. Okay, that last part was made-up. But if I was into paddling my kids, that’s how I’d do it.
To say I was spanked a lot as a child would be like saying RuPaul is gay. It’s true, but again… It’s not as magnificently true as it could be. There needs to be a few more imaginative adjectives jammed in to make it a more precise statement.
Due to my extremely strong will and my vast expertise in the ways of naughtiness and mischief growing up, I got a lot of spankings, and for some reason I got two or three times the spankings any of my nine siblings did. I don’t think the last half of the kids found themselves on the receiving end of a single half-solid swat, and definitely never with the Smashball paddle. This wasn’t necessarily because my parents didn’t want to spank them, but because by the late eighties, spanking was becoming frowned upon by society as a whole, and Mom and Dad were left with nubs for hands from all of the corporal punishment that I was constantly being dished.
And it wasn’t just Smashball paddles that they used. As early as my childhood memories take me, I was sent off to grab shoes, wooden spoons, and magazines. If I was lucky, I’d bend over and get a couple whoopin’s on my covered rear end. If I had been naughty enough, I was made to yank my pants down, bend over, grab my ankles, and take a set of them on the bare cheeks.
If I fought with Eric or Tomi Ann, I got a whoopin’. If I went around chanting “do you hear the wind?” every time my kid sister Amy spoke, I’d get a whoopin’. If I didn’t do my chores, I’d get a whoopin’. If I talked back to Mom or Dad, you guessed it. I got a whoopin’.
It’s not lost on me that those paragraphs make my parents seem like absolute tyrants who loved beating the shit out of their kids. I’ve never thought this was true at all. It was a different time back then. Just about every parent whooped their kids and nobody really thought twice about. I’m just thankful I missed the old “go cut a switch off the willow tree” era. I’d take a Smashball paddle over a raw branch-shaped welt any day of the week.
Of course, nowadays, if you spank your child, you must be a bad parent. This is evident by all the perfect parents out there on the Internet telling us so.
But I don’t think that’s true either. In truth, it saddens me sometimes that we live in a day in which we are raising entitled, wussy, snobby kids who don’t know how to work, who don’t know manners, and who don’t know what it means to respect one’s elders.
Everywhere I go, I see children screaming at their parents, those parents giving into their children’s tantrums and demands, and parents in general having no idea what to do to get their kids under control. Parents are really beginning to fear the word “no,” and that scares the living hell out of me. I can’t help but think we’re headed into a future in which those who could be truly great do nothing at all because they don’t know how to do anything but stamp their feet for what they want.
Don’t get me wrong. The no spanking movement isn’t a bad one. I do believe that there are so many better ways to handle almost all problems with your kids. We live in a time when there are countless books, parenting courses, seminars, websites, blogs, and podcasts, all which point to better ways. But that doesn’t mean that nobody should ever spank their kids. In the words of our family counselor way back once upon a time when I was married, “sometimes it’s the only thing that works, so long as you’re in control when you do…”