Tuesday, April 03, 2007

In Which I Am A Lightweight

My mother is not so much a person as a force of nature -- something elemental that can blow through your life and shake things all around, leaving you all confused and with things misplaced.

My mother is one of those people that *everyone* knows. Either they actually KNOW her, or they've heard enough stories about her exploits that they feel like they know her. She's larger than life. She's always been a character, and I suspect she'll be that way when she's ninety-five. She gets it honest. She tells tales of her own mother that lead me to believe that she's only following the path that her mother forged before her.

When I was in trouble in my younger years, my mother was inventive, to say the least. Mom would sentence me to my bedroom, which did not seem like such a punishment because it was where I wanted to be in the first place. But -- she would remove my stereo, and all my books. I was left with nothing to do but stare at the walls. Or, the few times that she punished me by sending me outside to play? Sheer torture. I was always one of those unathletic, bookish children who cringed when natural light fell across their pasty skin.

On the rare occasions that I was to be spanked for my infractions, I was made to go out to the Queen Anne's Lace bush, and pick my own switch. Woe befall me if I picked a switch too small! -- I got switched with that switch *and* another, more appropriate one. Mom would strip all but the last two or three leaves off of the end, and whip that little sucker across my bare bottom with all the fervor of a fanatic.

And then there were her "subtle" punishments. There was the time when I complained about something that she'd cooked for dinner, and everyone got a full plate, but I got an apple. Or the time that she conspired with my best friend and took out a full-page ad in my senior yearbook, complete with naked baby pictures. Truly *embarrassing* naked baby pictures. I don't even know what the hell I'd done to deserve that one.

I recently had the misfortune to punish Offspring for something she'd done. I have discovered that either I just don't have the kind of practice that my own mother did, or I am just hopeless at this punishment business. Here is where my creativity fails me, apparently. My punishment chops are sadly lacking. This is where I bow to the masters that came before me, and exit stage right.


Miche said...

I got nuthin' for you. Just *hugs*

Karyn said...

Ah...Girl? I think you're doing it fine. No shame in making your own path. Courage. ;-)

coffeypot said...

I, too, had to go out and cut my own “switch” ever time I got into trouble. So much so that all the trees in our yard looked like telephone poles.

ccw said...

Mr. MFBA had to get his own switches, also.

My mom yelled and spanked from time to time but I do not remember her having much in the way of punishment.

I am bad at punishing because I am inconsistent. Then there is the fact that listening to or looking at Kid L when she is being punished drives me nuts.

Did your mom have any suggestions about what to do with Offspring?

jo(e) said...

I keep reading this post and wanting to come back and comment, but I am not even sure what to say -- these memories sound so painful to me. I wish I could come and give you a hug.

How wonderful that you are breaking this cycle.

It's funny -- when my kids were little, I used to get lots of criticism in my conservative community because I never punished them for anything. If they did something that bothered me, we used to just talk about it. Everyone assured me my kids would grow up to be terrible because I never punished them. Instead, just the opposite has happened. My oldest two (18 and 20) are compassionate, self-disciplined, super-nice adults. It is completely possible to raise children without ever resorting to punishment.

amy said...

I know that I'll be at a loss when my turn to punish arrives. I don't know how I'll do it. Warm thoughts to you and wishes that it'll be a long time until you have to do it again.