My parents really took the biblical scripture of “spare the rod and spoil the child” seriously. I don’t ever remember my sisters and I not getting a whooping if we were promised one.
Daddy’s method of punishment was his thick, leather belt that became thinner through constant use over the years. He would hold you firmly with your left or right hand and around we would go, mimicking a carnival’s merry-go-round.
With a tear in his eye, he revealed that what he was doing was hurting him more than us, but my rump begged to differ. It hurt my pride even more. It seemed that his method of punishment had been handed down through generations, which proved to be effective discipline.
Little Jimmy Dickens of Grand Ole Opry fame sang, “I got my education out behind the barn.” He put into words the way his father taught him right from wrong when he misbehaved. Young Dickens said his father didn’t want the other children to see their brother get a whooping, so he was led to the back of the barn for his punishment: a ride on the merry-go-round.
Most country folk had a productive peach tree growing near their house. It provided peaches in the summer and year-round punishment for naughty children throughout the year.
If you ran from Mama, she didn’t get frustrated. “Your dad will take care of you when he gets home,” she said as she held in her hand an unused peach tree limb she had broken off the peach tree in the front yard. We breathed a sigh of relief for the moment—only to have a small reprieve from our punishment until Daddy came home from his job.
Country children were always on their best behavior when we visited friends or relatives. It took very little common sense to realize that we had done something wrong or said something out of school when Mama gave us that unmistakable “look of displeasure.” We just knew we would be disciplined or punished when we got home. it was the unspoken rule between us that never wavered.
As the years went by, we must have been doing something right because we were growing up, and I guess our parents were satisfied that the life lessons they had taught us had finally sunk in.
As strange as it seems, after Mom and Dad passed away, when I have an important decision to make, I ask myself, “What would Mom or Dad do?” It always leads me in the right direction. Many times, we endure punishment only to find a rainbow after the storm.