I was spanked, I was swatted and once or twice is was slapped openhanded by my Mom for mouthing off. I’d say I deserved it.
I threw a punch at my Dad. He avoided it easily and punched me back. After I became an adult I realized and marveled at his restraint. He punched me with enough force that I was jarred, shocked, surprised, and knocked back. No real damage was done… But we had each other’s undivided attention.
I’d thrown the punch out of anger and frustration. (about what, I don’t recall.) Dad wasn’t really hearing me, he was dismissing me without consideration.
Once we had each other’s attention… our relationship changed. We became more adult in our interactions. I was still wrong a lot of the time, I just wasn’t childishly wrong. The “wrongness” was lack of experience, not lack of logic.
That’s a really big difference for a young man.
By todays standards my childhood was fraught with child abuse.
Mental image of my mom standing at a stove. “Honey don’t touch that cup it’s hot.”
Little hands reaching for her tea cup. “NO! you’ll burn yourself.”
Mommy sipping drink from cup then putting it further away.
Little hands reaching toward cup in it’s new location. “You’ll hurt yourself. I’m telling you it’s going to hurt…”
Cup moved again, Mommy looking at stove. Little fingers goal achieved, making contact with hot cup… PAIN! it hurts! Crying begins.
Daddy comes in holding Coffee cup in big hands, “Whats happened?”
“He wouldn’t leave my tea alone and the cup was too hot for him.”
“Did you move it away from him?”
“Of course I did, but he wouldn’t stop. The cup isn’t hot enough or full enough to hurt him. Maybe he’ll learn, better this than him ignoring me with the stove!”
“Um, Ok. Hey kiddo do you want daddy’s cup?” Little hands tucked safely behind back.
“Let Daddy see your hands.” Little hands timidly reaching out. Daddy’s big hands inspecting fingers, then he kisses them and scoops me up, making funny noises on tummy with his mouth. Giggling… lesson learned. “No really meant No”
Heck I was once spanked with a belt off the rack in a JCPenny’s.
Through it all, I knew my parents loved me. Even when I tried to convince myself that I HATED them.
One thing my parents weren’t interested in was making a weak person. They wanted me to be strong and independent and somehow they managed to balance my independence with their wishes EVEN when I wasn’t going the way they’d have preferred.
When I became an adult, they wanted my moral compass to always point North. Throughout my childhood that compass was calibrated by whatever means was necessary and effective. (Sending me to my room was pointless… I had plenty of books and loved to read.)
They made sure I understood the difference between right and wrong, and more so, they made sure that I understood how to make the value judgements that allow me to evaluate a new situation and decide right from wrong in grey areas. (Something more of our politicians should have been taught.)
Even as an adult I’ll reach out to my parents for their opinion about those grey zones. My Mom and I often disagree, but we always come away from a discussion with insight.
Mom is very liberal and I’m obviously less so. Immigration reform for example can really get us both going. Her experience is different from mine because of where she lives. She looks at the issue through the lens of an educator and seeing children learning and discovering new things, and ultimately reaching their full potential.
Children don’t call her racist… they call her Teacher. Their parents call anyone who disagrees with allowing illegal immigrants to “Jump the line” Racist, to shut down any discussion of illegal behavior.
Mom and I had a “Spirited discussion” about it. She brought part of our family into it, “Would you deport your nieces and nephews?”
“Uh nope, Mom they were born here as was their father and his parents immigrated legally and became citizens, just like our branches of the family did.”
I think that’s when she realized it’s not about country of origin with me, its about responsibility, the manner in which you come to the country, and the choice between waiting your turn and not gaming the system and being an asshole. If I were to choose to immigrate to Germany, I’d go to the German consulate and ask how this is done. Then I’d follow the instructions and wait my turn.
I’d want to arrive in Germany with a clean slate and be welcomed as a German citizen when I’d passed all the requirements. It’s about honesty and integrity.
We don’t discuss immigration reform anymore EVER.
At least my Mom isn’t mad at me about it, and apparently doesn’t think I’m a monster anymore.
At the very least… She knows that her basic moral /ethical teachings stuck and, hopefully that is some consolation.
All of this is fresh in my mind because of the rioting in Baltimore last night.
We watched the news with grim fascination. We saw the police and the protesters squaring off. We all saw how it would end, visions of the devastation wrought in Ferguson sprang unbidden into my mind’s eye.
The rocks & bottles started flying.
Transfixed I watched and wondered how much of Baltimore would be sacrificed to the insanity of “Mob Justice”. The crowd fled before the SWAT team, they moved like a swarm into the CVS and a liquor store.
I reached for the TV remote, I had no desire to see what happened next. Then, there was a sign that perhaps this might be different.
A yellow clad super hero streaked across my TV. Her hair flying back as she took charge of the person she was responsible for, and obviously loved.
Her phone in one hand, and her other hand grabbing her kid after she’d seen him throwing rocks at the police.
She could have been my Mom! She isn’t, but she was in full on Pissed-off MOM Mode!
Having been on the receiving end of that particular mode once or twice in my life (ahem), I cringed a bit.
I felt a bit of empathy for her son, he got what he deserved. I know that his punishment will be long, arduous, and will make an impression. I wondered if he’d have preferred to be arrested by the police. In his position… I’m not sure where I come down.
A friend suggested that maybe Moms dressed in yellow should be on patrol tonight with the police.
Moms Patrolling with switches tonight sounds like a rioters nightmare.
I hope she doesn’t get hauled in for child abuse by Child Protective Services. She was smacking him in the face. Technically i think that counts as child abuse because you can’t hit your kid at all these days.
I got me to thinking, if all kids today, had a little more of the hand of justice applied to their bottoms and a little less privilege, would there be rioting at all?
Meaning if there was more respect for authority; Parents, Teachers, Police, and kids knew there was a price for their misbehavior would they be more or less likely to even be in a situation other than a peaceful encounter with police on career day?
I guess I’m questioning if it’s a matter of escalation.
We acknowledge that we have bad guys. So we have police.
We acknowledge more bad guys, we add more cops quicker to anger and hotter tempered. We see more violent encounters, so we add more police who are younger and trained faster, on & on till we’re here with Ferguson and Baltimore.
Could any or even, a lot of this have been avoided if parents hadn’t been intimidated into not disciplining their children by an agency (CPS) which calls any physical pain a crime?
Another set of heros showed up in Baltimore this morning too.
The folks who just showed up and started cleaning up.
That was so heartwarming. They all said that the riots shouldn’t have happened.
One guy said something like “The children made a mess, it’s up to the adults to clear it up.”
That sums it up perfectly.
Looting and Riots don’t communicate a message they delay a solution, and double the work.