We have always considered the dreaded "spanking" to be a last resort in our home. It is not only dreaded by the children, but it also dreaded by the parents. Mostly by me, because I'm the mama, and it's my nature to nurture. Hubsy is a man, and a boss. It's his job to produce results, by any means necessary. But he follows my lead, and he waits. And we wait, and wait. In the meantime, we experiment with other forms of discipline.
There are the heart to heart talks, where we discuss issues, make comparisons, investigate choices, and suggest a variety of responses. I take my daughter's hand and lead her on a walk down my side of memory lane, revealing the experiences of my adolescence, that are similar to her own. Although the conversation is usually very interesting, and captivates attention on all sides, her perception is that we are just a couple of old farts, who can't relate to what's going on with modern teenagers.
We sometimes resort to the lecture, going on and on about following rules, and what we expect, as well as what the world requires of her. It becomes a tag team event, where Hubsy and I take turns expressing our opinions, that often lead to criticisms of the choices she's making for her life. Lectures are useless, and we all know it. You don't have to look too closely to pinpoint the exact moment that she shuts down. The lessons in our voices are quickly replaced by thoughts of her sophomore boyfriend, or how she's going to wear her hair the next day.
Punishments are inevitable. Longevity varies from one week to one month. Loss of privileges is the most common, and typically delivers a great blow to Punkin's lifestyle. How would you go about your pursuit of happiness without life's technological conveniences? Television, handheld gaming systems, MP3 players, digital readers, larger video gaming systems, computers and Internet access. You never know what you've got until it's gone. Unfortunately, humans are adaptable, and entertainment comes in many shapes and forms. She will occupy her time with crossword and jigsaw puzzles, architectural design with our extensive Lego collection, even organizing notebooks, backpacks, and bookshelves. When loss of privileges doesn't seem to take effect, the addition of household chores begins, mostly in the form of kitchen and bathroom duties. These are much hated tasks, however instead of leading to lessons learned, it leads only to resentment, and a set of chores done "half-ass" style.
So, following a series of warnings of it's pending arrival, we come to the last resort. How I wish it were one that involved palm trees and jet skiing, but it's not that laid back. It requires planning and precise execution. In our own youthful experience, spankings had their own sporting equipment ... paddles, belts, spatulas, wooden spoons, hair brushes, and even shoes. These days, it's natural or nothing. It requires patience. Spanking is an appropriation of consequences, not an expression of emotion. So when the anger fades, we get down to the real business at hand. Without hostility, the child is asked to lean over (fully clothed), and one adult hand is used to swat her back side, anywhere from one to ten times, depending on the infraction. For those of you who disagree with this sort of corporal punishment, be aware that I'm <- this close -> to agreeing with you, which is why the action is handled under very controlled circumstances. I'm not out to hurt my children, and I'm not even keen on the idea of them fearing me. What I need is for them to fear the consequences. Presently, and for quite some time, Punkin has felt no fear. Not of my disappointment. Not of my lectures. Not of removal of privileges. Not of school suspension. And as it seems, not even of police involvement. But she fears my hand, and that makes it the best hand I can play.
Working our way up to the Last Resort is a steep climb. We don't even take a step toward it unless the infraction (or build up of infractions, rather) is substantial. We don't go there for things like: not making the bed before school, not removing the dog's business from the yard, or not wiping down the kitchen counters after washing the dinner dishes. Although she does, often, not do these things. No, the steps we take are in response to being picked up by the police for truancy, at the local shopping center during fourth period. And for being charged with destruction of school property. And for disappearing for two long hours, and a full out neighborhood search went unsuccessful, leaving me on the verge of calling 911. All of this on top of past experiences of being charged with theft, and having to do community service. And creating secret social networking accounts behind our back after being forbidden to be on them. And sneaking out of the house in the middle of the night, and being returned home by the police. Pretending to have schizophrenic symptoms to get attention, and having to spend time in a psychiatric hospital.
So you see, my feeling is that if I have to sentence her to this kind of corporal punishment in our home, in order to keep her from growing up out of control, and being sentenced to the sort of corporal punishment given by the state, then this is what I have to do.
What else are we supposed to do? As it is now, this crafter, writer, mom, who prides herself on having a unique imagination, is out of ideas. So I ask you, the mom-blog-reading-public, do what you do so well, day in and day out... voice your opinion. Leave me some feedback with your response to my Punkin.