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Old Punishment Revisited

By Joe Rector

I watched “Good Morning Joe” recently, and one short segment discussed a bill in Kansas that allows spanking. It says the teachers and parents may spank a child and leave marks. Prior to this bill, spanking was allowed only if it didn’t leave any marks or redness. The entire conversation struck me as funny, and I’m sure plenty of others in my generation might well chuckle at it.

Things certainly were different “back then.” My twin brother Jim and I were rambunctious boys who seemed to find ourselves in trouble, even when we didn’t mean any harm. Mother was at home in our early years, so she was the chief enforcer.

Edna Rector did not “suffer fools,” and she administered punishment swiftly and efficiently. Most of the times, she’d cut a switch from a nearby shrub and turn loose on us. Those thin branches seemed to attach to the backs of our legs and then wrap around to the front. After a dozen or so “lashes,” the spanking was complete.

At other times, Mother administered correction with a bolo paddle. It hung on a nail on the kitchen door frame, and she could draw it with the same swiftness of a Texas gunslinger. The spanking began with her grabbing an arm around the bicep. Then she bent a bit to the side and, in rapid fire, slapped it against our backsides. She always warned, “Don’t put your hands back!” If we’d done so, fingers might have been whacked. Mother always set a pivot foot and spun as we moved in a circle to escape the paddle.

Jim and I started school, and Mother began her teaching career. However, that didn’t mean we escaped spankings. If our transgressions were too grievous, she opened her desk drawer and withdrew her paddle. On one occasion, I failed to heed her warning not to tromp in the mud with my new shoes. Upon entering her classroom filled with bus riders, Mother called me up front and “tanned my hide.” The students looked on and thanked God it wasn’t they who was being spanked.

Most teens escaped spankings, but not us. Mother still believed that sometimes a swat to the bottom produced excellent results.

As a freshman, Jim received punishment for scaring her to death by not coming home until several hours after he was supposed to be there. When he walked into the house, she told him to choose a belt. She told him to lie across the bed and then delivered the swats. He got up to back talk mother twice, and that resulted in further spankings. He finally shut his mouth long enough for her to stop.

I spanked my children when they were young. Lacey would cry as soon as I walked into her room, and that always lessened the severity of the punishment. Still, I swatted her bottom when she deserved it. Dallas refused to show any emotion and waited until I walked out of the room before crying. After a while, Amy convinced me to stop the spanking and confine them to their rooms or other areas without the benefit of television, music, or any kind of stimulation. That punishment proved more effective sometimes than spanking; however, in some situations, a quick swat was the best way to handle things.

Today, everyone swears that spanking is child abuse. Well, if that is true, entire generations have been abused over the years, but amazingly, folks have turned out all right.

We who received those kind of punishments learned that respect for adults and adhering to rules for expected behavior were things that helped us in the future.

Most parents never meant to “scar” a child when they spanked them. The punishments they inflicted were given as loving parents who wanted the best for their little ones.

I’m not sure if the Kansas bill will pass. I do know that few of us older folks ever got a spanking that didn’t leave some redness or a bruise. However, they were temporary things that served to remind us about our boundaries in life. Few of us ever suffered any kind of permanent psychological damage. A spanking with no marks…yep, that’s pretty funny.

 

 

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