Dozer, the bulldog

Dozer, the bulldog
Dozer: Spring training is upon us!

Rockin' and rollin'

Rockin' and rollin'
The author of Mark's Work

Coleus flowers

Coleus flowers
Why I grow flowers

HappyDay Farms bees are happy bees.

HappyDay Farms bees are happy bees.
Air-borne bees

HeadSodBuster and BossLady at the coast

HeadSodBuster and BossLady at the coast
Love is the greatest power.

Beauty abounds!

Beauty abounds!
Heinz tomatoes, used for catsup

If you've seen one butterfly, you've seen 'em all, said no one ever.

If you've seen one butterfly,  you've seen 'em all, said no one ever.
Painted Lady

Fall Jewels

Fall Jewels
Praying mantis, attending services on a zinnia...

My souvenir from Reggae on the River, 2017

My souvenir from Reggae on the River, 2017
Something I have always wanted...

Mahlon Masling Blue

Mahlon Masling Blue
My friend and brother.

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Friday, July 8, 2016

Sue Me

Sue Me

I am going to don my boxing gloves and step into the ring-once again-in an effort to rebut that frequent post which goes something like this:

“I have to laugh at people who are against spanking. My parents whipped my butt and I learned the ‘Switch Dance.’ I didn’t hate them.I didn’t have trust issues with them because of it…I wasn’t abused, I was disciplined. Repost if you got your butt smacked and survived.”

I employed the metaphor about stepping into the ring as the introduction to this piece, to illustrate the irony of using either violence-or implied violence-to prevent the same thing. Raising three sons, separated in age by a total of three years and two months, our biggest challenge was to keep them from killing each other.

Seriously, they were industrious, well-behaved for the most part, intelligent “…thrifty, brave, clean and reverent.” You get the drift. Little boy scouts, all three of them except for one minor detail: They had a sibling rivalry going that made WWII look like a cannabis festival in Garberville.
Boy scouts, all three of them...

And that was when Annie and I were there to supervise them.

How do parents instill in their children-both boys and girls-a genuine repugnance for violence in every aspect? That is a challenging question in an age where any time the television is on, the window is wide open for a rock to come hurtling through, shattering any illusion that we live in a world where violence has no place.

Yes, I was spanked as a kid. Yes, I have anxiety issues. Is there a connection? I don’t know. What I do know is that if there were no spanking involved, I would not be posing the question.

I did not want to take any chances that I would be instilling in my sons, the same anxiety issues that I now have. 

I must stop and do the disclaimer, the one clarifying the amount and degree that my spanking entailed. It is all fairly benign. My father had only one criteria for which a spanking was deserved, and that was if I endangered myself. 

I remember riding my bike from our front yard, directly across the street to the vacant lot where we played baseball, without taking proper heed that there were no cars. My father witnessed my impulsive act and summoned me.

“Mister,” he intoned in an even voice, “you will go out into the back yard to the peach tree, and cut a switch. And Mister? If I don’t like the one you bring in, I will go out and cut one myself. And if I do, you will wish that I hadn’t.”

He would handle the chore with minimal drama and dispense me on my way. Mama was more direct. “Where’s my yardstick? Put out your hand, Mister.” 

I must have commanded much respect to always be addressed as “Mister.”

I’m sorry if teaching kids that violence is unacceptable, by spanking them, sounds ridiculous to me, but it does. How could it not seem so to kids?

What I think is that parents are on the job 24/7 and it’s the hardest job ever invented. I think parents have issues they must contend with, that are unavoidable and overwhelming. I think that when push comes to shove, too often it is impossible to determine what constitutes stepping over the line.

And what about the fear of previous violent encounters with an angry parent, now being manifested in a kid who starts to worry that it will happen again? Knows it will happen again? What if there are other issues in a kid’s head? Like whether or not I am handsome enough? If I am smart enough? If I can hit a curve ball?

What if there are just a bunch of ongoing kid issues, all contributing  a little to the development of a personality disorder? What kid is going to benefit from spanking? 

None that I know.

On the other hand, once a parent has completed instilling the latest lesson with an installment of spanking, does he or she feel better?

I can’t answer that question.
There's the little miscreant, the one in the middle...same age.

OK, under great duress I will admit to one instance when I struck down my own edict, and gave 4-year-old Lito a spanking-after he threatened to throw himself out the second-story bedroom window. All Annie and I were going to do is leave him at the grandparents’ house with his brothers so we could hike to Chimney Rock. *

Sue me.

Ultimately, spanking, long outlawed by public schools, is not against the law in any of the fifty states inside the home, but child abuse is-in all fifty.  Let’s just say there is room for some confusion here.

Unfortunately, the confusion is one-sided and is generally felt only by the recipient of the spanking. And it is all stored inside the head, awaiting further developments. And of course, as the original post stated, many of us got spanked as kids and survived.

If you are a proponent of spanking, then nothing I say is going to convince you otherwise. If you have not made up your mind, then just recognize that there are options. These options are available and do not involve hitting your kid.

It's hard to fight with your brother when you are filling the wood box and he is cleaning the upstairs bathroom. It's hard for them to fight if you decide this is a good time to go out and mall up some manzanita, so that they can haul it back to the house and stack it.  Then when you are done with the work, you get out the bridge cards and play a few hands...until they start to argue...

And let's not forget the ever-popular timeout, by oneself.

Alternative measures allow kids to recognize that how you act as a parent will help guide their own response when they get to that point. I am curious as to how my own sons will respond to disciplining their kids when the time arrives.

I must keep in mind that there are two parents and any type of discipline is most successful if consistently applied by both. I got lucky in that Annie agreed with me.

So yes, I survived being spanked as a child, but I like the fact that I took the first step to eliminate violence as an option in the future. 

The path to success in any venture must start with the first step.



  1. I agree 100%. I have never seen the sense of using spanking as a tool to teach kids how to behave. Doug and I agreed even before we got married that there would never be any spanking, and I think our kids came out okay!

    1. It takes both parents to make it happen and I agree! Your kids are awesome!

  2. Spanking our kids was unacceptable for so many reasons. It didn't make sense. As for sibling issues, they are, at best, complex. I think parents can encourage and model respectful and kind relationships but the sibling thing sometimes invokes emotions that little kids don't know how to handle. The perception by one sibling that mom likes the other one more brings all sorts of thorny things to the surface. Sometimes that six year old knows nothing else but physical response. But that doesn't mean a parent responds in the same way...
    I have always been grateful for my siblings. I learned a lot from them (still do) even if there was some pounding involved or some roughhousing that involved spit.....