OK – so I realize my “spanking” blog from two weeks ago was somewhat controversial. What can I say? I am old school at my core and I believe that some rotten people may have turned out a little differently if their parents had exercised stronger discipline on them when they were younger. But today, I want to move forward to more “creative” forms of punishment. Not every crime is punishable by spanking and not every child responds to a swat in the same way. For example, one time, when my daughter was just a toddler and we were hanging out at my brother-in-law’s house, she tried to assert herself inappropriately and so we threatened to remove her from the room. Now, she was the only grandchild/niece for almost 5 years so she kind of thought she was an adult already and taking away her privileges to be present with the adults was the WORST thing we could do. She pushed us to the limit so daddy swooped her up and threw her in the guest room to bawl her little eyes out. After an appropriate amount of time, she got her act together and was able to join the party again. As a teenager, she is easy to discipline because in a funny way, she self regulates her own punishments. Once we decree it, she sees it through to the end (though not without the occasional eye-roll and “huffy” breath….teens). Sometimes she even has to remind us that she has been denied some privilege. She must not harbor any kind of guilt in her soul because she thoroughly pays the price for whatever sins she has committed.
That form of punishment would NEVER work on my son. He has much more of a rebellious spirit. We have to be creative with him because even I can’t bring myself to spank my boy every time he disobeys – for Pete’s sake! I would end up beating him senseless! His rebellion comes in waves. He’ll do something small at first but his ills start coming on more frequently and with greater intensity. Once I see that pattern emerging I say: “I don’t like how you’ve been acting lately. There must be something black growing in your heart and like all sicknesses, we need to go ahead and flush it out of your body.” He knows exactly what that means and he hates it. He is now forced to only drink water at every meal for a predetermined number of days; usually somewhere between 3 and 5. It’s his worst torture. Now I don’t know if it’s wrong to turn something so pure and precious as water into a punishment and I wonder if he’ll hate water as an adult because of it but for now, it works beautifully.
When I was little, spanking was our primary form of discipline but on occasion, my folks would work up a “doozie” of a punishment and like all families, they didn’t always play out as planned. One time I got caught stealing from my mom. There was a season when I would take one dime from my mom’s purse every single day to buy candy at the liquor store we passed on the way to school. I didn’t think it was that big of a deal since it was only a dime however over the course of several months, that 10 cents surely added up. And we were poor! Even though it was an ‘insignificant’ amount, I OBVIOUSLY knew I was stealing since I never asked for it and searched it out only when no one was around. When my parents realized what I was doing, they told me that it was wrong and hurtful. People who steal from the family don’t respect their role in the family, so – since I wasn’t acting like a loving part of the family, I would not be allowed to eat meals with the family. In addition to being generally grounded for 3 weeks, I was also forced to eat my meals alone in the hallway for 3 weeks. It was one of my most pathetic experiences and it really made me feel like I was removed from the family. I learned the lesson my folks were trying to teach me and I never stole again.
Now since spanking was reserved for my dad, my mother had to come up with other ideas when he wasn’t around. When I was about 4, my mom caught me eating sugar by the spoonful right out of the sugar bowl. Yes, the Poor, Little, Rich, White, Mexican is addicted to sugar. My mom, in her genius, sat me down at the table and forced me to eat a whole bowl of sugar that she poured out of the big bag. After crunching away spoonful after spoonful, the bowl was finally empty. I pushed it towards her and …..asked for more. 🙂 Thinking that she was too soft with her first allotment, she served up another heaping bowl. I imagine she started feeling sick to her stomach long before I had because once the second bowl was empty and I asked for a third helping, she took away my spoon and shooed me away to my room.