My mother had a special spanking spatula. It was mostly used on mornings when we would not or could not leave the sweetness of our warm beds and come down to the kitchen for breakfast, and it was used mostly on my older brother. But I saw.
I think the spatula was appropriated the first time, in a moment of sheer desperation… A single parent who had worked a full time job all week was dredging energy for the weekend from the depths of her body to make a solid morning meal for her kids….and they didn’t want to get out of bed!
I remember her moving toward me that morning, as I ran and begged her not to hit me with it..the bacon grease making it glisten and flash dreadfully as she neared me. I remember the fear. I remember the feeling of betrayal and crying no mommy no..and then wetting my pants..and I remember her stopping and sitting down in my room and crying. That was the last time she ever used the spatula as weapon against me.
Things were never perfect, but the honesty of my mom in that moment, stopping, crying… and then apologizing and sitting down to talk about what was going on with her… why she felt so frustrated with me… and then making plans together to work these things through differently, made me feel closer to her and love and respect her a million times more. Maybe I was about 7 years old..but I understood. And she understood how scary it was, and it was not the way she wanted our relationship to be…
If we justify violence against children as a way to take care of them then we are not fine….and possibly trying very hard to deny the fear and anger we felt toward our parents when we were spanked….trying to make it okay. It wasn’t okay then and it isn’t okay now.
If we spank a child we create a climate of fear. We break a bond of trust with them. We damage our relationship with them. And fear and anger does not only reside in the violated child’s psyche..it permeates and affects the world of children. All kids feel the societal sanction about spanking. Sometimes they see it happen to cousins or siblings. Or they know of others who it has happened to. They know it is possible that it might happen to them.
Adults who spank model that it is okay to hurt others as part of a problem solving process. If you are bigger, older, stronger, you must be obeyed or there can be dire consequences…and if you get frustrated or angry it is okay to hit.
People can come to terms with this and change if they are courageous enough to do so. Kids will forgive. We can ask for their help and ideas on how to channel frustrations in healthy ways. They will learn from us a very important lesson and most likely will not spank their children because of the loving bravery modeled. We can forge a bond of honesty and trust with them that can be profoundly deep. For a lifetime.
Wishing you honesty, trust, bravery and chasms filled with love.