Jeremiah's School of Levitation


Monday, April 03, 2006

On Whoopin's

We had a recent kid meltdown, and, as usual, the thought entered my head that what this otherwise beautiful boy needs is a good old fashioned spanking, like dear old dad used to deliver. But then, as un-usual, I had my own version of a mental meltdown whereupon I recalled my old elementary school principal, Mr. V_.

Mr. V_ used to hand out periodic spankings in his office. Mr. V_ delivered his discipline with a long, plastic paddle that could not have been sold as anything else except a butt-whipping device (and, where the hell do you go to buy a goddammed official paddle for whipping kids' butts?). It had a handle, with a duct tape grip that he had wrapped on himself, the resourceful madman that he was. And, the business end of the paddle itself was like a mini oar, but, as I said, made out of some hard plastic that somehow could pass its traumatic force right through Husky jeans and deliver a sting to one's butt that felt like he'd actually managed to cause your ass to explode. He was an angular man, with oversized glasses, and he always wore gray slacks, a red tie, and a white button-down shirt, long-sleeved and crisply ironed. He probably ironed it with the paddle, after he'd heated it up on your butt.

He had to get parental approval to whoop you though, so he sent home an approval letter that your parents had to sign, and, well, my parents sent their signed approval letter back to him so fast that I think he got it back about a second BEFORE he sent it home.

I visited Mr. V_'s office--once. That's usually about as many times as anyone visited Mr. V_'s office. After one visit, you not only didn't want to go back there, but you didn't even want to pass by it anymore. You may just have to walk ten feet to your next class, but if that ten feet took you past Mr. V_'s office, you'd walk around the whole outside of the school, cross the street, and walk the next block over, and then come back to the other side of the school to avoid passing by Mr. V_'s door or window ever again. It was terrifying to be sent there.

When you got sent to his office, he talked gently to you, calling you Mister, and asking you if you knew why you were here. You nodded, your head jerking like you were having a seizure, which you were. He'd shake his head and then have you acknowledge that you did wrong and, of course you agreed. You'd agree to having assassinated JFK if you thought it would make him have some pity. And, for a brief second, he seemed to get calm, as if he was going to release you unspanked. But, then, he rose from his chair, seemingly without even using his legs, and he opened his drawer, and he pulled out the paddle. All swallowing activity halts in your body and your blood temperature drops to about 2 degrees F.

And, then, he says the fateful words, "Okay, put your hands on the wall..." Depending upon what you did, you got from 1 to 3 whacks (which, by the way, could be heard throughout the hall--whenever you heard it, you froze in empathy, a tear involuntarily popping out of your eye). I'm not sure you could survive more than that and not need a butt transplant. After the whoopin, Mr. V_ always sent you back to your class and you always walked in snorting and sniffling, biting your lip, but you try not to rub your butt. But, you give your pain away when you sit down because you don't quite lower yourself all the way to the seat, but hover above it, descending at the rate of about 1 inch per hour. Someone sniggles in the class, but the teacher looks at them, and they suck it back in with such a great force that they also suck their pencil into their mouth. See, no matter how funny it is to see someone come back from Mr. V_, the prospect of going to see him is the direct opposite of funny.

Mr. V_ was an extreme, but a representative of a different time. We don't spank these days, at least not in the "permissive parenting" gang I run around in. In fact, now my friend's eight year-old daughter is the one doling out the punishment. I've seen the little girl get angry and give her mother a roundhouse whack to the arm that, if I had delivered to my mother at that age, then, well, let's just say that I'd just now be waking up from a 35 year-long coma that was induced by a maternal slap that you could probably still hear echoing in my head.

Every guy buddy I have today was spanked by their fathers as a kid. None of those same guys hate their parents, shoot up neighborhoods, or go to therapy. All of those guys have a deep respect for their fathers and, all of them acknowledge that, for the most part, the whoopins they got were directly related to something really stupid they did and which they'd spank their kids for, if we spanked. But we don't. Or, don't admit it. Me, you ask? I have spanked, but we've had some, um, high-level talks, so, no, now I don't spank. I explain, punish, bite holes in coins in frustration, but I don't spank. Maybe that's good, but, as I watch Meltdown Number 1,297b, I hear my dad saying "Do you want something to cry about?" and I recall that skewed logic being stiflingly clear to me.
Jeremiah, 10:11 AM

3 Back at me:

Our principal used a wooden paddle with holes drilled in it...1-inch holes that left welts. I never got spanked by him, but my momma and daddy did some serious learnin' on my ass with their hands, yardsticks, and daddy's belt.

When our Girl-child went through a hitting phase, I tried to reason with her using words, to no avail. Finally my spouse said, "Next time she hits you, hit her back!" So I did. I've never seen her look more shocked in her life. She stopped hitting, BTW.
Blogger Mona Buonanotte, at 11:11 AM  
I got smacked once in a while (I really don't like to use the word spanked.) I also did a lot of smacking when I was teaching in Korea. Those kids are much better behaved then here. Hit them at will I say...

A little punishment never hurt.
Blogger Cecil B., at 8:42 AM  
I really can't balance the fact that I'm constantly telling my 3 YO NOT to hit her sister, hitting is bad. And then when I'm at my wits end, I tell her I'm going to smack her if she continues to hit her sister.

There's no winning.
Blogger SJ, at 9:45 AM  

Say sump-tun