Fighting Means Having to Say You’re Sorry
Laughter rang through the corridors of our home, but so did fighting. With four girls, there was always fodder for fighting. “Moooooooootherrrrrr. Suzanne pinched me.” or “Moooooooooootherrrrrrrrr. Nene has on the blouse I was going to wear to school today.” we would whine. “Girls! Stop fighting this instant.” Mother sternly laid down the law to which end we continued to fight, under our breaths.”
If Daddy was home, he stepped into action. That wasn’t fun! I remember the sound of the belt swooshing through the loops as he removed his JC Penny #32 from his pants. We knew we were going to catch it, when that thing came off. The howling and gnashing of teeth began before the first lick hit our padded tushes. Believe me, we were kind to one another for quite a while after that. Sometimes he would line us all up and whip us for no good reason, but for all the times he should have whipped us and didn’t.
I never viewed this as child abuse. The fact was, I probably deserved most every spanking I got. I also told myself I was running away from home that night. That was until Daddy would come and sit down beside me, hug me, and explain why it was necessary to administer discipline. I generally thanked him and went peacefully to sleep, vowing to be nicer to my sisters.
Mother had various approaches to discipline, ranging from a hair brush to the behind to child psychology. Mother wasn’t a college graduate, but she was very smart. One afternoon, Nene and I had been fighting. Neither of us can recall why, but we both remember the discipline.
Mother heard us fighting. She was sitting in the chair in their bedroom, reading her Bible. This was a daily sight, and one memory of Mother that I cherish. Anyway, she called us to their (her and Daddy’s) room. She told us that we were going to have to stand there until we we told each other that we were sorry. I can tell you that it was worse than any hide tanning!
“I’m not about to tell her I’m sorry.” I pouted. “Are you kidding? I can’t stand her!” Nene snapped back. “Well, I guess you will be standing there for quite a while then.” Mother said as she glanced up from reading her Bible. We begged and pleaded with her to change her mind. “I’ll scrub and wax the living room floor, if you’ll just let me go.” I implored. “Okay. After you and Nene tell each other you’re sorry, you can do that.” No amount of coaxing worked.
The pleas got more and more ridiculous. “I’d rather eat frogs than to apologize to her.” I swore. “She stinks!” Nene’s smug face galled me. Back and forth we continued to insult each other. Finally, one of us said something that made the other one giggle. That’s all it took. We started poking fun at each other and laughing louder each time. We did say “I’m sorry.”, but it was more like, “I’m sorry that you are so ugly.”, or “It’s okay. I’m sorry that your breath smells so bad.” and so it was.
What I learned from the discipline that Mother and Daddy administered was:
1. A good belting will make you repent and do better for a while, but the only lasting impression it makes is on your hind quarters.
2. Taking ownership of one’s part in any disagreement is the bigger person thing to do. Ending a disagreement with laughter is cleansing.
3. “Love means never having to say your sorry”, is the most stupid quote of all time! Saying you are sorry, when sincere, heals lots of hurts, and let’s you off the hook, and out of your parent’s bedroom.