“Discipline your son and he will give you rest; he will give delight to your heart.” (Proverbs 29:17)
“He who loves his son will whip him often in order that he may rejoice at the way he turns out. He who disciplines his son will profit by him and will boast of him among acquaintances.” (Sirach 30:1-2)
These two verses are from the Revised Standard Version, Second Catholic Edition of The Holy Bible.
And legendary football coach Vince Lombardi once said, “Mental pressure will not make an opponent crack. It takes physical pressure.”
My early childhood was spent in the care of my great-grandmother and my great-aunt Josie. They were not Catholics but they believed strongly in Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior. They also believed strongly in discipline.
I was asked recently about my childhood. I immediately thought of the times I was disciplined and how that affected me. My relatives demanded that children not interrupt adults while they were speaking. Children were to be seen but not heard, unless they were called upon. So if I had something to say I learned to wait quietly until I was recognized. Once recognized, I could say what was on my mind. We children were constantly reminded of this rule. The first violation of this rule resulted in a warning. Subsequent violations resulted in a paddling across the rear end. That solved the problem and reinforced their message to be quiet until given permission to speak.
We were always expected to behave in public. Screaming, yelling and acting out were a public “no-no.” I remember once I was with my great-aunt Josie in a department store. I wanted her to buy me something I had seen in the store. She said “no.” I started screaming and yelling. Right there in the store she picked me up and paddled my rear. Then she put me down and told me to “shut up.” I did. The spanking was bad enough but in public and in front of strangers — that was humiliating. It never happened again. I learned my lesson the hard way.
I failed my first year in school. I was not dumb but I was not motivated, either. I wanted to play. I repeated first grade at a new school the next year. This teacher cared and was a no-nonsense teacher. One day she gave us a homework assignment. I did my homework but some of the other students did not. She ordered all students who had not completed their homework to the cloak room. Then she ordered me to join them. Each child who had not completed their homework was given a swat across the rear. I got two hits! Why? She was not impressed with the homework I turned in. She told me I was talented but I did not take my work seriously. That was why I got two swats across the rear. She then told me in the future she would not expect anything but excellent work from me.
From that point on I got good grades. That whipping lasted until I reached college. I could have gone home and cried to momma that the teacher whipped me. Or that I was whipped for no reason. But I was not a fool. Neither was my mother. If I came home and told her I got whipped at school, I would have gotten a real bad whipping at home. The rule was a whipping at school resulted in a more severe whipping at home.
As I grew up, people were always telling my mother how respectful, kind, smart and helpful I was. Momma was really happy to hear these good reports. As Proverbs 22:15 says, “Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child; the rod of correction will drive it from him.”
Well, it almost did. There was one habit that took a while for them to break me of when I was a child. Whenever I got in trouble I would run away from my great-aunt. Many times I would run out the front door, into the streets and stand on the yellow line in the middle of the road. My great-aunt was always afraid I would run into the path of a car and be seriously injured. So she would lure me into coming to her and then paddle me but good.The paddling was not for the offense I originally committed. It was for running into the street.
I learned a valuable lesson as a child. To be responsible. And if you messed up, not to run away but to face your problems. Admit your guilt and accept your punishment. That’s what I did when I was accused of Conspiracy to Commit Postal Fraud. The punishment: 46 months at the Atlanta federal prison camp.
I am just glad my great-aunt Josie, my great-grandmother, or my mother are not here today. Talk about punishment. I may have decided to make a run for it! Facing them would have been scary.
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