Well of course I wasn’t. But I never got a spanking, never got grounded, and never had a “time out”. I don’t think time-outs had been invented when I was a kid, so that might explain that one. By the time I was old enough for grounding to mean anything, I had a pretty good idea of right and wrong, and understood why such rules were in place. My parents gave me a pretty long leash because they knew I was a good enough kid that I wouldn’t use it to hang myself. I never really had a curfew, they knew if I was out til all hours (a rarity) that it wasn’t because I was up to no good. My room was always the cleanest one in the house, so that wasn’t an issue. Dad never cooked food I didn’t like, and mom gave up the battle of making me eat things I hated when I was very young. I always did my homework, and although my report cards were, without fail, marked with an “X” by the box that read “refrains from unnecassary talking”, I was a pretty good student.
I think I came into the world right on the edge of the idea that it was wrong to spank your children. I recall paddling being threatened in my first years of elementary school, but it was never carried out on anyone. I was a child of the “Dr. Spock” era, which I gather was a no-corporal-punishment philosophy popular around that time. One of my aunts had her first child when I was very young, and I can remember mom and granny remarking that she planned to use the Dr. Spock method. I further recall that a few years later, they joked that the Dr. Spock book was only good for smacking that child on the ass with.
I remember very few spankings. I don’t think my dad EVER spanked me, though I’m sure even a perfect child such as myself deserved at least a dozen. My mom and stepfather tried a few times, and those attempts are probably what prevented me from getting more.
When I was a kid, my favorite place to go was a department store called Hills. There was a lady who worked there named Flo who I adored, and who adored me. Actually, her name probably wasn’t Flo, but she looked just like the Mel’s Diner waitress of “Kiss My Grits” fame, complete with a gravity defying hairdo that no doubt bears some responsibility for global warming.
We would always find her, and she would kiss my cheek and I would show her whatever Matchbox car I had picked out for the day. I just LOVED visiting Flo almost as much as I LOVED getting a new Matchbox car. But I digress. As a youngster, I suffered from frequent nosebleeds. I would wake up in the middle of the night with them, get them for no apparent reason in the middle of the day, anytime I blew my nose…to the point that I was tested for hemophilia and eventually had my nasal passages cauterized. So one day mom and I are at Hills, in the checkout line, and I was getting sassy over something. (Maybe I wanted an extra Matchbox car). She warned me to hush, but I didn’t. So she popped me in the mouth. And my nose started bleeding.
Pouring actually. All down my face. We had to go to the concession stand for napkins. People were whispering, shooting dirty looks at mom for the abuse they had just witnessed. I’m sure she felt about three inches tall as she dragged her screaming, bloody kid out of the store. So ended any gentle pops to the mouth.
But it didn’t completely defer mom’s attempts at corporal punishment. She had a secret weapon she kept in the car, right between the front seats. A hairbrush! My sister got the hairbrush much more often than I did, but neither of us were strangers to being smacked on the leg with it if we got out of line.
That is the actual hairbrush used. I remember because it was the only kind Mom liked–a Phillip’s Light Touch. I can’t believe I still remember that after all these years, and I’m even more stunned that I was able to find a picture of one on the web. At any rate, that exact model was either discontinued altogether around 1988 or just not available anymore in our small town…because the sole remaining one was kept in Mom’s bathroom–and we were not allowed to use it because there were no more to be had. Some sequence of events that are lost to my memory meant that the Light Touch brush ended up in the car right next to the standard issue one that served double duty as a paddle. My sister and I predictably were bickering in the car over something and Mom had to threaten the brush. Her threats were useless, and the next thing I knew, the brush was coming for my leg. I dodged, and it hit the dashboard instead. And it broke in two, right at the handle. Mom looked down, and a look of terror fell over her face as she realized it was her beloved Light Touch that now lay in pieces on the floor. My sister and I died laughing and I recall saying something to the effect of “That’s what you get, child abuser!”
The last attempted spanking I recall was when I was about 8 or 9. I was out riding my bike, and came into the yard on it as my mom and stepfather were watering the flowers. Mom playfully sprayed me with the garden hose, which caused me to jerk the handlebar, slide on the damp grass, and end up landing on my butt. I was pissed!! And before I could stop myself I jumped up and shouted “Damn you bitch!” (an assemblage of words I heard frequently, but certainly was NOT allowed to say). Mom’s face lost all expression, she shot my stepfather a look that meant “Take care of that” and, realizing what I had said, I ran inside the house. I wasn’t even across the living room when I heard the door open behind me. I was gonna get it. I ran down the hallway into my room, and as I slammed the door I grabbed the only protection I could find–my metal Star Wars trash can, and jumped onto the top bunk.
My stepfather came in and I knew I was in for it. “Get down here!” he said. But I refused. So he reached up and grabbed my ankle. I lifted the metal trash can over my head and sent it flying over the side of the bunks where it smacked him in the forehead. He released my ankle and with a stunned look admitted defeat and walked out of my room. I think I was afraid to come off the bunk beds the rest of the day. But that was the last time I remember any sort of a spanking being threatened. I wore them down! Forced them into defeat! And then went back to being the perfect child.