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Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Should We Smack Our Kids?

If the media is to be believed, there seems to be two trains of thought on this topic. 
Team A, who believe that if it is illegal to assault an adult in any fashion it goes to say that it’s criminal to strike a child and Team B, who believe that the recent spates of youth discord and crime are evidence that a decline in corporal punishment has led to this errant behaviour.

Even though I can count the incidents on one hand I must confess I was not averse to delivering a short smart smack on the bum if it was warranted. 

For example; if one of the kids was about to run into heavy traffic, or the time Thaddeus nearly bit his brother Jonah’s nose off, leaving a ring of teeth marks around the area that persisted for three weeks.

My parents (apart from the time I created a tsunami in the bathroom and flooded the house) never smacked me as far as I can remember. The truth is I was exactly the sort of kid that may have deserved a flogging.There were several instances in my childhood where my behaviour undeniably befitted a smack on the bum. 

The first occasion I recall was when I was about six years old. My mother, my three year old sister Sam and I were visiting my Grandmother. Grandma was showing us an exquisite friendship ring that had recently been bequeathed upon my Aunt by an ardent suitor. 

Just like Gollum from ‘Lord of the Rings’ I was mesmerized by this sparkling prize and wanted to make it my ‘precious’. 

Sneaking into my Aunt’s bedroom I pilfered the trinket and hid it in my knickers. When we got home, realizing the coveted item could never be revealed in public, I secreted it behind the curtains in the living room. 

About an hour later visitors arrived and while my parents were entertaining them, my sister (the snitch), discovered the ring and took it to my mother. 

As they were busy with their friends I was sent to my room to be dealt with later. For the next half an hour I relentlessly screamed my lungs out in fearful anticipation of what was to come. Eventually the discomfited guests went home and Dad came into my room. 

“Why are you screaming?” he enquired softly. 

He gave me a long, sincere talk about the wickedness of stealing. Is that it? I thought.

The second instance I recollect was when I was about nine and it was my sister’s birthday. There were two presents I yearned for at this age and no matter how much I badgered Mum and Dad they never materialized. 

One was a horse. I wanted to be National Velvet and own a horse called King. The other was a camera. 

Fairly confident that my parents would never yield to my earnest entreaties for a horse I concentrated my efforts on petitioning for a camera. Years of birthdays and Christmases passed with no success.

“Film processing is too expensive Pinky,” they’d lecture, “Wait until you grow up and get a job.”

When my sister, Sam, was gifted with a camera on her seventh birthday my jealousy was palpable. Chucking the biggest tantrum, I sulked and complained for the entire day and well into the evening. 

I ruined my sister’s birthday with my virulent resentment. I probably should have been given a stinging slap on the derriere and sent to my room. 

The third occasion I remember was one morning when my family was preparing to leave to attend a dog show. Mum and Dad bred poodles at that stage and my father had been up since a sparrow’s fart washing, blow drying, grooming and meticulously clipping the two dogs to within an inch of their life. 

I was in the garden when I made the discovery

Months before I had found a dead toad in the gutter. As a ‘science’ experiment I had put it in a glass jar and concealed it in the flower bed. 

On this particular morning I found the glass jar and excitedly noticed that the toad had completely liquefied. Taking the lid off the jar I breathlessly raced into my mother to show her. 

“Get that out of the house Pinky!” she shrieked. “It stinks! Get rid of it!” 

It was time to leave and the immaculately spruced pooches jumped into the car on their way to fame and glory. 

“What’s that stink?” demanded my father. It was an overpowering, sickening smell that had everyone in the car dry retching. It was the dogs. 

“Where did you pour that jar Pinky?” gagged my mother. 

I'd poured it in the garden and the dogs, detecting the lovely aroma of decomposed amphibian flesh, had hedonistically rolled around and smothered their powder-puffed bodies in it. 

We didn’t make the dog show that day, but I was in the dog house big time.