As Art Linkletter (you have to be above 50 to know who that is) said, “Kids say the darndest things.” And mine were no exception, but you could add “think” to mine.
Yes, the story has a skunk in it. Wait for it.
As I was reading various musings the last few days, it brought to mind a long ago story about my inept parenting. It just so happened that I had read several blogs about parenting, then a news report and YouTube video about the guy who shot his daughter’s laptop because she had written disrespectful things about her parents. That was all followed by a research report (Canadian, I believe) that offered proof that spanking caused some cognitive parts of the brain to do something it should not do. In other words, it caused stupidity and something else dire that I cannot remember.
My firstborn son was a beautiful baby and an even more charming 3-year-old. He was cute, articulate, clever and well-loved by all. (Having nothing to do with his being the first child, first grandchild, and first great-grandchild) Yet, for all that brainpower he had a particularly dangerous habit of crossing the street in the neighborhood where we lived. Mind you, it was not a busy street, (justification for bad behavior) and he was just trying to get to the gaggle of children that lived across the street. (more justification for bad behavior) I had talked, yelled, popped him on the butt and timeouted him on several occasions all to no avail. He still crossed that street at every opportunity. (I will be the first to admit we were not as diligent about staying right with our children as mothers appear to be now.)
On a particular dreary day my little prince and I went grocery shopping. On the way, I first smelled, then spotted a squished stain with texture in the road. It was a skunk that had lost a battle with an automobile. As my lightening quick parenting skill kicked into place, I pulled the car over and removed that impressionable child from his car seat (the antique kind with the plastic steering wheel and the red horn that went beep beep)
I carried him quickly to the middle of the road and shoved his little, innocent face as close to that skunk as I could get it without touching (while I tried valiantly to hold my breath).
As his expression changed to horror, I said sternly to him, “See, see what happens when you get in the street; see what happens when you cross the street to play?” Solemnly, he nodded his beautiful head that was covered in golden curls, and I felt that certain sense of satisfaction when you know you have made that significant impact in the upbringing of your child.
I came out of the house to get another bag of groceries from the car. Looking around, I nearly fainted as I saw that brilliant child crossing that street again. I had not even been able to get the groceries put up before he was engaging in what I thought was a deliberate act of disobedience. I quickly dropped the bag and ran to him yelling (yes I was yelling in the middle of the day, in the middle of the neighborhood) and grabbed (yes I was grabbing him) by the arm, and drug (yes I drug him back across the street to the front porch) spanking him the entire way. I just kept asking him why he would do that; didn’t he learn anything about getting in the street? “Did you see what happened when you crossed the street to play?” I asked him. Didn’t you see what happens?
When the confused and bewildered firstborn, beautiful, charming, smart, clever son of mine finally got his voice (I must have had to take a breath) he blurted out frantically, “But mommy, look. I got into the street, but I didn’t turn into a skunk.”
Sometimes you have to be sure that you are very clean. I just hope the brain cells lost due to that spanking were some he didn’t need.