Friday, January 07, 2011
Flashback Friday: Discipline
You know, I did a meme for a while, so I know that it's tough coming up with consistently interesting conversation starters. I do not know how Linda meets this goal week after week. All I know is, once she opens up a topic, she does not leave you without 1 or a dozen jumping off points, which I so appreciate. Here's what's on tap this week; why don't you join in?
Were your parents strict, permissive, or somewhere in-between when you were growing up? Did you tend to be compliant or rebellious? What did you tend to get in trouble for doing? How did your parents discipline/punish you - spankings (and what did they use when spanking), revoking privileges, grounding, time-outs or some other manner? Did both parents handle punishment or did one tend to do it more than the other? (And which one was it?) Is there anything that you have admitted doing since you've been an adult that you got away with as a child? Or is there anything you were punished for that you have since learned your parents had to try hard not to laugh while they were meting out your discipline? If you are a parent, what is something you have done or not done (or vowed you would never do) as a result of your growing-up experiences with discipline?
My parents were, on one hand, strict, and on the other, permissive.
The religious denomination of my youth was very legalistic, so rules were a big part of my life. We did not buy on Sunday. We did not play cards. We did not do a lot of things.
You would think that such rigidity would flow over into things like dress codes, household chores, curfews, etc. You would be wrong.
It was a very complicated upbringing, but it was a loving one, and I was a mostly compliant, rule-following little girl.
Except for this one time and this one rule ....
My parents remodeled their living room and added a sprayed-on bumpy ceiling with little sparklies in it. I was quite fascinated by that bumpy ceiling. Quite. Fascinated.
My mom gave me a serious, stern talking-to about the new ceiling: "It must never be poked with a broomstick. It must never have toys thrown at it. It must never be approached without fear and trembling." OK, I made that last part up, but the ceiling, it was definitely something special. It had sparkles, you know.
But the main rule of rules about the ceiling was, "It must never, ever get wet. If it gets wet, it will melt and chip off, and we'll have to re-do the whole ceiling." I cannot communicate the somber tone of this warning. It was nearly a religious moment itself.
Now, my mom liked to talk on the phone. You remember those crazy phones with the three pound receivers and curly cords that tethered moms so that kids could run around just out of the reach of a swat.
Shortly after the Mt. Sinai exhortation about the ceiling, my mom got a phone call.
To this day, I do not know what possessed me. Like I said, I was normally a good kid. But I went and got a Windex bottle, climbed up on the furniture and began SPRAYING THE CEILING.
THE SACRED CEILING OF SPARKLES!!!!
I can hardly breathe just reliving the insanity of this act.
My mother got off the phone. She looked up, gasped, and after that, much of my life is a blur until about age 25.
Oh, the fear and trembling. Hell hath no fury like the mom of a mushy sparkle ceiling.
She began walking around the house, methodically shutting the windows.
Oh, the horror. She was going to spank me so hard she didn't want the neighbors to hear my wailing.
I was basically dying a thousand deaths.
Here is the honest truth: She yelled and yelled, but I do not remember the spanking (and there have been many in my life). I do not know whether she was just so shell-shocked that she did not have the physical strength to spank me or was afraid once she started swatting she couldn't stop, but I cannot remember being hit. I just remember the yelling and the windows.
That is one moment of discipline I will never forget. And you can bet I have NEVER sprayed a sparkly ceiling again. I live in mortal fear and reverence of sparkly ceilings.
Now I need to step away from this story, gather my wits and take some deep breaths.
And just in case I never said it, Mom, I'm sorry I desecrated the ceiling. If you will forgive me for that, I will forgive you for making me wear your big plastic rain bonnet on the bus to school in kindergarten. I think we're even.