Saturday, March 17, 2007


"Grace is going to tell you that she got spanked", were the first words out of the mouth of her mother on Thursday.

Grace is a regular stinker with her mother. Behavior we never see in our home Grace pulls on her mother. It was no surprise to hear that it came down to "paddling Grace's canoe" Thursday.

Knowing Grace's mother the spanking was not harsh. Knowing Grace, the spanking hurt her feelings more than it hurt her fanny.

80% of American CEO's listed in the Forbes 500 report that as children they were spanked by a parent.

As a child I was spanked. Dad would often call it a tune-up. "Do you need a tune-up, boy?!" Sure dad, and while you're at it check the spark plugs.

My first spankings at four years of age were a go to the willow tree, cut off a switch and bring it to dad kind of spanking. Stray swats that would wander from the fanny would sting the hell out of bare legs.

We graduated from the willow twig to a hand on the bottom. Then dad hurt his hand during one my spankings.

Enter Mr. Belt. Later on came Mr. Belt on a bare bottom. My bottom toughened up. Several times a coat hanger replaced the belt. There were welts the size of a metal hangar.

Spankings became more severe during the times me and my brother were being punished. We'd laugh. We'd fake cry. That further incensed old dad which in turn increased the vigor of the delivery our punishment. There were times that we couldn't sit down for hours.

When I was older dad attempted to continue his line of "behavioral modification". I remember the last time well. When he was told that I was not going to submit to any more of his "punishment" dad pushed me through a closed bedroom window. Then he wanted me to pay for its replacement. That was the last time that dad touched me in anger. Wise decision on his part. I had reached the age where I could dish back anything that dad could dish out.

Today dad would have been reported for using a belt or hanger on the bare bottoms of his boys to Child Protective Services. He would have been in big trouble. Back then it was okay for parents to wail on their kids. If reported dad probably would have gotten the parent of the year award instead of being in big trouble.

I've thought about the beatings I took under the hand of dad. Dad thought about them too. At the end of his life and without prompting, dad admittedly regretted using corporal punishment on me and my brother. He was very sorry.

For the life of me and to this day I can't remember what it was that I had done or my brother had done that brought dad to the conclusion that our bare butts needed paddling. We were only kids. I wonder what pissed old dad off enough that made him take out his anger on his kids?

Until the mid 1980's California public schools were allowed to paddle students if the parents consented in writing. A witness was required to be present when the child was paddled. Like that made it okay.

On my assignment from teacher to principal the superintendent "awarded" me with a paddle. Tools of the trade. To make a I point I'd display my paddle to the worst of rascals and threaten to use it. This approach always worked.

I used the paddle that you see pictured here only once on a student and at the request of a parent. Paddling was the last resort in an attempt to settle a boy down who kept hurting others. The teacher was present. Three swats. This lad never hurt another student.

Most parents today are wise. There are other methods besides spanking that can be used to teach, to modify or improve the behavior of their children. An occasional swat to the rear end of a rebellious child to drive a point home is still not a bad idea. No bare bottoms. No belts. No hangars. Just a swat.

I should frame and display this old paddle as a memento of yesterday as a symbol of one method of behavioral modification that is no longer acceptable. Thank goodness.

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1 comment:

Max said...

Er, said paddle looks just like the kind you'd find in a frat house. Chico ain't so far away, perhaps you could donate it to some brothers who'll be sure to put it to good use.

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Whiskeytown Lake, Very Northern California, United States