Vol.XII No.III Pg.8
May 1975

Stuff About Things

Robert F. Turner

Spare the rod and spile the chile:

I know I read it somewhere. I wonder if that applies to this case. A mother who had reached the limits of her patience sent her small child into the yard to get a switch. After a long stay, the child returned crying and sobbed, I twied and I twied to weach a switch, but they are too high. Here is a wock you can frow at me.

As all parents know, discipline must be tailored to the child and the situation, and that can be quite a problem. I once knew a father whose arms were paralyzed and hung useless at his sides. His family had to feed and dress him. To sit in a chair he had to swing his arms aside with a motion of his shoulders. He often fell, and with no arms to protect himself, he learned to twist his body to take the fall on his shoulder or head. If you were going to pity him you had to do it quickly, for even on casual acquaintance you realized this man was something special.

He was a Christian, and raised a Christian family. He had a marvelous sense of humor and could laugh at himself with the same relish he displayed in kidding others. Church members often put his hat on his head at some crazy angle, knowing he couldnt readjust it. Sick joke? Well, not to bro. Lon Stewart. He could carry his head with a dignity that made all proud of him, and his laugh would disarm the prankster.

But I started all this to tell you his way of administering disciplinary punishment to his husky boys. I never saw them get out of line while I was in his well-run house (and Ill interrupt my story to compliment his good wife) but I am told that when all else failed, he could pat those boys on the back in a most effective way. He would order them to turn and stand so he could plant his number eleven in the seat of their britches. And they stood, and he kicked!!

Paint a mental picture of that. It is the funniest, and the most sobering story on discipline I have ever heard. Before you can fully enjoy your laugh you realize that the real discipline took place long before the kicking. It was the respect he had gendered, by teaching and example, so the boys would stand and take it when they knew they had it coming. I dont know where the boys are now, but my guess is that they still respect and revere the memory of their father.