I want Ten!

I was doing some research by looking back through some of my OLD blog posts when I came across this one from a couple years ago.  It might have been read by 5 people.  I think it deserves another shot.  I hope you enjoy it.

My son Boo got himself into some deep trouble a while back. I’ll spare you (and him) the details of his offence, but it was bad enough to warrant more than just a stern lecture. I’m not the type of parent to resort to spanking, much, but I do believe it is a vital and sometimes necessary disciplining technique. For Boo this was going to be his first go round with me being the disciplinarian. He had been spanked previously one time by his mother earlier in the year, so he knew the routine. After he was informed what his punishment was going to be he was banished to his room so he could sit and think about what was coming for a little while. The fear of an impending spanking is just a useful as the spanking itself, so getting it over with too quickly is a waste of good psychological torment. So I let him sit in his room for at least 30 minutes before I headed back there.

When I entered his room I was surprised to see that he was standing beside his bed waiting for me. He was expressionless except for a faint hint of what could be described as determination on his face. There was no whimpering, no tears, and no quivering lip. Nothing. This was definitely not what I had expected. And at that moment I flashed back to a time in my own childhood. Boo’s actions reminded me of a situation I once found myself in. It is a story my mother used to love to tell when she was alive, and thinking about it now reminds me as much of her as it does the circumstances.

Me and my two brothers used to fight all of the time. My older brother is eleven months older than me and my younger brother was three years younger. Both of them have always towered over me in stature.

One day after school, I think I was ten at the time, me and my brothers got into it. The reason for the fight was probably something minor and stupid, but first came the yelling, then the shoving back and forth which quickly disintegrated into a three man wrestling match. Our mom usually tuned out our horseplay and didn’t get involved, but this time an exceptionally hard push combined with tripping over a sneaker ended up with me colliding loudly with a wall and subsequently leaving a large dent in the wallboard. Going instantly to silent mode, we could hear her heavy footsteps as they approached the bedrooms from the other side of the house. Naturally she was livid. She didn’t even try to listen to my explanation of what had happened, instead sending us to our respective rooms and beds with the spine chilling final line, “wait until your father gets home!”

Being the head of a military family with three rambunctious boys should have earned my father a college course credit in discipline. My father was fair, but firm with his punishment, and he got to practice it a lot. After years of trial and error he had settled on a wide black leather belt as his implement of pain. He always wielded it without malice and made sure we knew why we were suffering at the end of it. Even so, the dread we felt leading up to our eventual punishment was always mind-numbing.

Just before nightfall I heard the car door of my father’s Buick clank shut outside and shortly thereafter the front door opened and closed. I could only hear the murmur of voices and I imagined my mother telling him the events of the day. A couple minutes later the unmistakable footfalls of my father’s spit-shined dress shoes made there way down the hallway towards my room. He stuck his head into my room and said, “Follow me.” As expected, his expression was not favorable.

As I trailed him down the hallway to the other bedroom my brothers shared, I couldn’t take my eyes off the infamous black leather belt sticking out of his back pants pocket.

In my brothers room I took a seat next to my younger brother on his bed as dad inspected the damage to the wall. Both of my brothers looked like they had been crying and my younger brothers had his hands jammed beneath him. He was already preparing himself for the inevitable.

When dad turned back towards us I think his face was a shade or two darker.

“Who hit the wall” he asked.

“I did,” I answered truthfully.

“Stand up,” he commanded to all of us. We did as he asked and a soft moan emanated from my younger brother.

Then my dad did something he had never done before. He stood in front of my older brother and asked, “How many?”

Confused my brother replied, “Huh?”

“I said how many,” my dad repeated.

My older brother thought for a moment and then answered in an unsure tone, “One?”

My dad nodded his head and then slowly turned around and faced my younger brother.

“How many,” he repeated the question to him.

My younger brother glanced briefly at my older brother and then replied, “One,” as well.

Then dad moved in front of me and stood silent for a minute. “How many?” he asked me.

I am not a fan of pain. I’ll avoid it as much as the next guy. Nor was I grooming myself to grow up to be some sort of Norma Rae. So I don’t know why I answered like I did, all I can attribute it to is temporary insanity.

“I want ten,” I answered defiantly.

“How many” he repeated, even though there was no mistaking my answer.

“I want ten,” I answered again, purposely not breaking eye contact.

We stared at each other for what seemed like an eternity. At first I thought his eyes were going to burn holes through my brain and the need for the belt would be moot, but slowly his eyes softened and I thought I caught the sparkle of a smile starting to form. Then he turned around and left the room.

The three of us just stood there staring at one another with dumb expressions on our faces afraid to move. A few minutes later he returned. In his hands, instead of the black leather belt, was the cookie jar.

He reached into the jar and pulled out a single cookie and handed it to my older brother who took it slowly, still waiting for the other shoe to drop. Next he pulled another single cookie from the jar and handed it to my younger brother, who immediately started eating it. And to me, he handed ten chocolate chip cookies.

“You all will be doing chores for a month to pay for that wall,” he said as he walked out the door.

It was a moment of my childhood, I will never forget.

Now in Boo’s room, seeing him standing there bravely waiting to face the music, I thought of that story and how my mom loved to tell it.

And so I asked him, “how many?”

“Huh?”

“How many?”

He seemed to think about this for a second and then he answered confidently, “Five.”

I picked him up, gave him five kisses across his face, hugged him tightly and said, “You can thank your Grandpa for that one!”

30 comments

  1. And hopefully he will remember that when he has kids!

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  2. I absolutely loved this. I am stealing your grandpa's wisdom when the time comes.

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  3. I love this story so much. What a great memory! I like the idea of using the fear of a punishment (instead of the punishment itself). Very wise of your dad! Bet getting cookies was the last thing on your mind that day!

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  4. Love this! Thank you for sharing. :)

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  5. Okay. *sniff*
    Umm... *sniff sniff*
    So now that I've wiped away my tears and my heart, lurching closer and closer to my sternum as I read this, settles...I can breathe.

    Sometimes, it is the lesson the kids SHOW they have learned that makes the spanking an unecessary tool...not all the time, but on occasions like this one.

    Now back to my smiling snivel as I replay this story in my head and think on this for the next time my own chipmunk does something ... interesting.

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  6. Wow, it reminds you how powerless we all were as children, doesn't it? I definitely prefer kisses and cookies.

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  7. This was a wonderful story. Just great. Thanks for sharing :)

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  8. You're right - this did deserve another chance! Thanks for dusting it off and putting it back on display!

    Ten just happens to be my favorite (and lucky) number.

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  9. This is the sweetest story. Glad you decided to repost it.

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  10. What a great story! I'll remember it for the rest of my life. Thanks for sharing it.

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  11. Awesome story! I really really loved it

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  12. DL - I'm so glad you re-posted this. What a great story. I'm sure you'll enjoy telling it in the years to come as much as your mom did.

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  13. Love this story! So going to use this on my kids. I can't always be the bad guy.

    Thanks DL

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  14. Dang, wish you were my dad! All I got was my nose put in circle just in tiptoe range. :)
    Jules @ Trying To Get Over The Rainbow

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  15. That story made me tear up. I'm not a fan of spankings--even though I got a few as a kid and I think there are a few kids out there that deserve them--but I think this story teaches us a valuable lesson. I'm glad you shared it with us.

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  16. Aw, that made me tear up! Awesome.

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  17. LOL! Aww, that's the best yet. I do remember waiting for dad to get home, and that anticipation was the worst. But I'm trying to remember if I ever got cookies... nope! :D I love it. Trying this one~

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  18. *opens 'Dad' toolbox, drops new tool in*

    Awesome story, DL. And thanks for the wisdom too!

    Have a great weekend. :D

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  19. This makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside ... :)

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  20. Oh my gosh, that WAS worth retelling! Such a powerful and beautiful story. I love both the endings. :)
    My Blog

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  21. Aww! That is sweet! I'm glad you re-posted it! I'm going to try that when I have kids! :)

    J.C.

    Join me in the Trick or Treat Spooktacular! Could you help make the Grand Prize a brand new Kindle Touch?

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  22. Very cool, Dad. Forgiveness is as important as discipline - in my opinion. Spanking was never my favorite form of punishment for my kids, and I'm glad I rarely had to use it.

    .........dhole

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  23. What a delightful story! Thanks for sharing!

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  24. DL, nice story. You and Mike are so laid back. I just can't imagine you two getting into any fights or arguments. Your Dad is good man and you are a chip off the old block.

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  25. Oh that brought back mempories. I was the youngest of three brothers. Punishment was rare, but when it was implimented it was done as you describe almost ritualistically. The ritual was as hard as the belt.

    I never got a cookie however. That is a very nice touch. As you know the real punishment was the look of dissapointment in Dad's EYE!

    The Cranky Old Man

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  26. I love this story! I'll have to try it with my kids. I'm sure it will blow their minds, lol!

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  27. its crazy how things look so different from a kids eyes. Love this!

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  28. Great story. Bet Boo got more out of that experience than he would have if you spanked him. No doubt he'll pass it along to his children someday. Thanks for sharing, I enjoyed this.

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  29. Hahaha! Love your story. I'm pretty sure I would have said, "NONE."

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  30. Oh! I'm so so glad you reposted this. What an absolutely wonderful story. Hugs to your boy, you and your dad {{}}

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