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May 28, 2012 / hippiechickamblings

Spare the Rod and Raise a Psycho

Discipline was a piece of cake when I was a kid. No classes in early childhood development or workshops on behavior modification were necessary for a parent to be a field expert. Since my mom was born to be an expert at anything she put her hand to, parenting two kids and working full-time seemed as effortless for her as stepping into her high heels. She didn’t worry about the complications of fragile self-esteem, or nurturing that inner child. Quite frankly, she was too busy. She only had time for the basics, and that made it easier for us kids to keep up and stay out of trouble.

Mom

Mom (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There were only two rules to be followed: Rule #1: We are the parents, and you are not. Rule #2: Do as I say, and no one gets hurt. The beauty of it was the simplicity: Every possible source of conflict, from chores, to attitudes with authority, to dating, was covered. Nothing was a gray area. If we had any questions about interpretation of the rules, we need only refer back to Rule #1. If I ever wondered how far I would be allowed to go in expressing my opinions, again, Rule #1 would suffice, but Rule # 2 provided further back-up. It was wonderful not having to play guessing games and avoiding the insecurity that stems from not knowing that if “A” happens, “B” will surely follow. For example, I knew, (as surely as Eve must’ve known she’d screwed up when she ate that fruit), if I gave Mom any lip, said lip would simply be ripped off my face.

Barely over five feet tall and 108 pounds soaking wet, Mom probably figured she’d best get her bluff on right out of the gate, lest we outgrow her and run amok. Her favorite proverb, the one about sparing the rod, she believed in as unflinchingly as she believed in her Lord, though I think her version was “Spare the rod and raise a psycho.” Now, lest I give the impression that Mom had rods lying around the house to use for beating implements, let me clarify that she did not. Hairbrushes, combs, spatulas, and belts were lighter, quicker, and easier to find.

English: A selection of kitchen spatulas

English: A selection of kitchen spatulas (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Only once in my life did I attempt to interfere with Mom’s brand of justice. I was around thirteen and had recently discovered the meaning of the universe. Being of superior intelligence, I found it distasteful to take orders from subhuman beings of such ignorance and mortifying stupidity. With my enlightenment, came boldness, and I gave my mom some “sass.” Now, “sass” was a couple of steps above “giving lip,” and required more rigorous enforcement of law than a mere lip ripping. She went for the spatula, the perfect choice, as we happened to be in the kitchen. In my new-found self-discovery, I decided I was not going to allow the inevitable. When she approached me, I simply grabbed her wrist holding the spatula and braced myself, holding on for dear life. Shock and outrage rippled across her features, and in that instant, I realized two things: First, I was stronger than her, and could overpower her. Second, if I was lucky, enough pieces would be found of me to have a decent memorial. I let go of her wrist and took what I had coming.

Mom was not an idiot. She knew the difference between abuse and a paddling. She never once left a bruise or mark on me. I said to her at one point, “You might actually hurt me one of these days.” Her response: “I haven’t yet, and besides, a few scars would give you character.” Mom’s brand of discipline didn’t damage my psyche or fill me with enough rage to go on a school shooting spree. It didn’t flood me with enough resentment to put me in therapy, although I did plot to run away from home when I was six. I packed my clothes in a hanky and tied it to a stick, just like I’d seen on my favorite cartoon. When I announced my intentions to Mom, she said, “Here, Honey, let Mommy help you pack. You’ll need a sweater.”

I grew up knowing what respect is and trying my utmost to treat others the way I wanted to be treated. Mom taught me by example that you work for what you want in life, and by the age of nine, I could bake a cake from scratch and mop and wax a floor. She gave birth to me, nursed me when I was sick, gave me her time, her love and affection, and taught me right from wrong. To this day, I revere her and fear one of her tongue lashings as much as Armageddon. She brought me into this world. I always knew she could take me out. God Bless her, she was fantastic!

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