To smack or not to smack, that is the question. Is the parent who smacks their child trying to enforce boundaries for acceptable behaviour, or, as a recent report from a psychologist revealed, are they mindless thugs?
When I was young I knew a few lucky kids who didn’t get smacked. One mate lived under the ‘Go to your room!’ regime, which I thought was bit harsh, until I discovered his room was chock full of toys and video games. The poor sod would spend hours suffering in silence as he conquered galaxies, or watched tele.
Another mate had to endure the ‘Let’s discuss why you set the cat of fire’ style of parenting. Those lectures had no effect whatsoever, but they did give the cat some precious time to hide and heal. I’d often listen in, not because I wanted to hear a sermon, but because food and drinks would always be served afterwards. Sometimes it was milkshakes!
Then there was a passing acquaintance who got caught by his mother scribbling graffiti on her kitchen wall with a permanent marker. He kept writing as his mum counted, “One! One and a half! One and five eighths,” while I slowly edged away from ground zero. Five minutes later, she still hadn’t reached ‘three’, and was using fractions I’d never heard of, when he casually tossed the pen out the window and said to her, “Gimme some money stupid, I’m going to play the pinnies.” She immediately handed him five dollars and we left. He doesn’t write on walls anymore; the guards won’t let him.
But there was one genius who only ever got smacked once in his entire life, and I was there to see it. I can’t recall his crime, but both of us were shocked when his mother ordered him outside to get a stick. He returned with a branch the size of a telephone pole and handed it to his surprised mother. She was barely able to lift it, but eventually managed to tap him on the back of the legs before slumping exhausted into nearby chair. Imagine her amazement when he dropped to the floor howling his head off. Ten minutes later, just as she was dialling for an ambulance, he staggered to his feet and wiped his eyes. “Well, I hope you’ve learned your lesson!” she gasped, between sips of neat gin.
“Oh, I sure did mum,” he sobbed, and slipped me a sly wink. We all did. I think he’s a psychologist now.