…And then, the paddle broke. A modern dissertation of what is wrong with America’s Youth, or something like that.


Paddle

Every single person in this world had their very own personal disciplinary actions as a kid. And if you didn’t, that still counts.

For me, I graduated from bare handed butt smacking to fly swatters and wooden spoons at an early age. I was what some would call a handful. Just ask my mother, 20 years later, and she still introduces me as her “problem child”.

Every now and then, when I did something unthinkable like throwing some extra meanness towards my little sister out there, or whined about not liking dinner (I have a big family, you eat what you get, or you didn’t eat), my dad handed down the punishment of kneeling in the hallway, facing the wall, and waiting. The waiting part was really the worst part of it all. I don’t remember the red knees, or the feet that fell asleep, but what I do remember is the gut-wrenching, absolutely terrifying panic that brewed around in my young stomach wondering if I was gonna get IT.

IT (which will be referred to as The Destroyer for the rest of this blog) was a massive, solid, thick wooden paddle, crafted specifically for one purpose-to force a child to have an epiphany and understand completely every wrongdoing they ever did or will do with one swing. Come to think of it now, The Destroyer really wasn’t that massive, but it was scary all the same.

Anyways, back to kneeling in the hallway.

Every now and then, when I would be isolated from my entire existence, which at that time consisted mostly of Polly Pockets and Furbies, I would have to sit there and wonder if my dad was going to pluck The Destroyer from its perch on the wall and warm my butt with three good licks of solid pine.

Most of the time, I wasn’t by myself in the hallway. My two older brothers were normally the antagonists in whatever had happened and their fate would be the same as mine. Unfortunately, the three of us did not draw solace in the fact that singularly, we each had to meet the same destiny.

Normally, when we would all get a good smack bare-handed across our butts, we’d find comfort that the other siblings received the same. Call it sibling rivalry, call it spite, but speaking from personal experience, my brothers not getting an ass-whooping for doing the same thing I got one for was worse than the actual stinging reminder that I was in trouble.

So, back to The Destroyer.

All accounts of the following story are true, based on the best of my knowledge, but I was 5 or 6, so some details may be exaggerated.

There was one particular day, I have no idea of the year, when my family and I lived in Key West, FL (which hadn’t been overrun by Fantasy Fest yet) and my brothers had a brand-spanking-new Nintendo 64. A wicked sweet N64, complete with Mario Kart. I was in awe every time they raced Rainbow Road and managed to stay on the track. I’ve never been much of a gamer, mostly because they wouldn’t let me play them, I was what was known as a button masher. (Urban Dictionary that one if you have no idea what I’m talking about.) By some strange wizard fortune luck, my oldest brother handed me an extra controller. I’m not sure what happened next. In my mind, I may have a won a race, doubtful though. So what probably happened is that I said something that one of my brothers didn’t like and a fight ensued. I don’t remember much of the fight, but if it was anything like normal, there was a lot of name-calling, probably a wedgie, or a nookie (old-school definition of nookie) and some launching of handy inanimate objects.

My dad, a Staff Sergeant in the Army at the time, happened to be home, and heard the ruckus.

*cue Dun Dun Dunnnnnnn*

“What hell is going on in here?!” He came storming in the room, which, if that wasn’t scary enough, you’ve never met my dad and his temper, and yes, they are two separate entities. In his hand, his MASSIVE hand (I’m 5 remember, everything is massive) he held none other than The Destroyer! You could literally hear the oxygen being vacuumed out of our mouths. My father proceeded to line all three of us up, oldest to youngest, so that we could accept our fate. My oldest brother was the unlucky one that day. One swing at his ass, and it had to be a really, really, realllllllllllly good swing and *CRACK* his ass went to burning and my turn was one step closer.

But wait….what’s this?!

The Destroyer is broken?!

His (the paddle was a male, duh) handle was still clutched in my father’s hand, and his body was laying haphazardly across the shaggy blue carpet of my brothers’ room.

Could it be that me and my other brother would escape the horror of a kiss from The Destroyer?

My dad took one look at the shard of wood in his hand, tossed it to the ground, and told my unscathed brother to pick it up, and left the room. The fear kept both of us glued to the ground where we stood, while my oldest brother rubbed his backside trying to soothe the heat emanating from his cheeks. When we finally did move, we quietly gathered the two pieces, and brought them to my dad, fully expecting another form corporeal punishment, but either he forgot, or he didn’t think we needed it after that scare, because we did not receive any licks that day.

Touche` Daddy.

Long story, long blog, yeah yeah yeah, I know. If you’re tired of reading, close the window and go back to your FaceBooking and Candy Crushing.

For those of you still here, I told you this story of fear to relate to the youth of modern America.

I had and still have a wonderful relationship with my family. My parents are still married, in fact, next year is their 30th anniversary. Both of my older brothers are married with children, and my younger sister is due to be wed in a few months. All four of us grew up in a household built on love, ethics, and morals, but also on discipline, values, and consequences. And all four of us have grown into responsible (some more than others), hard working adults that know the difference between right and wrong. Not only do we know the difference, but we exercise it as well. None of us have never gone to jail, much less been arrested, and my three siblings have all had college education. Myself, I chose the military route. Needless to say, we are all successful. We all know how to discipline the kids without it being deemed “abuse” by today’s wacked-out society.

In all seriousness, when did a good ole’ fashioned ass whooping because you talked back to your mother ever become abuse?

And why are parents so afraid to exercise their authority over their children these days?

I’m a firm believer that a fly swatter, a wooden spoon, a leather belt, and a paddle can all make the difference between a good egg and a bad egg.

None of us were ever abused, and if my exaggerated fear form the above story gave that impression, I’m wiping that out.

In fact, Mom, Dad, if you’re reading this-THANK YOU.

Thank you for being my guides in life, and taking the time to teach me the right from the wrong, and thank you for giving me the courage to do so.

Parents, that is what you must keep in mind when raising your children.

You are not there to be their friends. You are not there to satisfy their every want and need.

You are there to mentor them as they learn and grow. You are there to provide them with all of the necessary ingredients of a successful adult.

You are there to love them, and to discipline them. To care for them, and be strict with them.

Is there a magic solution to every parent’s problems? Absolutely not. But it all starts with you, not them. It starts with your willingness to let them dislike you sometimes, if that means they are going to know the difference between respect and disrespect.

Too many parents are lagging in their parenting, settling for parenting from the background and taking their kids misguided conceptions of the real world as acceptable.

Fact is, the real world is NOT kids like Miley Cyrus parading around on stage, pressuring young girls to dress provocatively to get attention. The real world, is young girls growing up into self-respecting young women, but that doesn’t just appear.

The real world is not Beaver Cleaver, in a perfect world. The real world is young men who have never been taught to know the right from wrong, beating an 88 year old man to death.

When I see the appalling things on TV that today’s youth do, I have to wonder where the disconnect was with them and their parents.

Did their parents not care? Or did their Destroyer break too early in life and their parents didn’t bother getting another one?

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