One of the things that scares me most about having children is the discipline you have to instill in them if you want them to be healthy, tolerable, functioning humans. I don’t mean discipline as in “will I spank my child or not?”, because if I have a kid anything like I was, the answer will be YES. I’ll be spanking her with an iron rod. Dipped in chloroform. And rusty nails. Just kidding, that’s atrocious to even joke about; the nails will NOT be rusty.
Anyway, the discipline I’m referring to is more about the times your kid does something that you are so appalled and surprised by, you are actually clueless as to how to move forward. Do I spank her? Do I take away everything she loves? Is this bad enough to warrant boarding school? Maybe I just throw up the white flag and let her make her own choices and deal with the natural consequences?
I’m scared of those moments. But I’m relieved to have a husband who I know will serve as a partner and teammate in those situations. When I’m crying and hysterical because our sweet, angelic daughter flushed mommy’s jewelry down the toilet and painted a masterpiece on the new sofa with permanent markers, I know Isaac will be the logical, calm one who will hopefully have creative and fair punishment ideas.
Having four daughters, my parents had to get creative with punishment quite a bit. We weren’t bad kids, but we all went through our bad stages. Except the youngest one, we aren’t quite sure why she never had a bad stage– maybe she watched our self-destructive behavior and decided to be the smart one. Thinking back to the groundings I’ve endured, the spankings I’ve received, and the lectures I’ve listened to with rolling eyes, one punishment stands out in my mind quite clearly. In fact, when thinking about it, I still feel mildly uncomfortable and my eyes shift around the room, looking for the nearest table to crawl under.
My best friend Alyssa and I were in 6th grade and we attended a private Christian school. No, we weren’t the “naughty school girl” types who wore short plaid skirts and had cleavage hanging out. We wore our plaid skirts down to our knees, our matching polo shirts tucked in, and men’s socks with white tennis shoes. She sported huge, face-encompassing glasses and I sported a near-unibrow. On “dress down days” I wore denim overalls. Not the cute, sexy, tiny overalls that I see girls wear, these were big ol’ farming overalls. The kind that were meant to be worn while shoveling horse manure and tending to the chicken coop.
Alyssa and I were sweet, dorky, good-natured, well-meaning girls. But all kids go through rebellious phases in their own ways. Alyssa and I went through a phase where we thought cursing was hilarious and “cool”, and because it was so forbidden in both of our houses, we would say horribly crude, filthy things to each other and giggle hysterically. We thought we were so bad.
One day Alyssa and I were on AOL Instant Messenger (also really cool at the time) and we had a 10 minute conversation that consisted of only cursing. We weren’t even talking about anything, we were just cursing and making up stupid “disses.” WARNING: Some serious language is about to follow. Sorry mom and dad and Alyssa’s mom, I promise we don’t still talk like this.
Courtney: You are a shitty shit head and you damn know it
Alyssa: Well you are a fucker
Courtney: You’re a mother fucker and everyone at school knows it– you are a shitty mother fucker who smells like asshole
Alyssa: I think you’re the mother fucker, you’re the biggest mother fucker that ever lived and your mom is a bitch
Courtney: Your mom is a motherfuckin bitch and a hoe
And it went on and on and on. For ten minutes we came up with the worst insults using the worst curse words we could think of. About a week later, Alyssa was at my house, as always, when her mom unexpectedly rang the doorbell. We figured maybe she was coming to hang out with my mom, as our moms were also best friends. But a few minutes later, our parents filed into the living room with stern faces; it looked like we were about to be the subjects of an intervention. I guess in a way, it was just that.
My mom pulled out several pieces of paper and handed Alyssa and I each a copy of what turned out to be the transcript from our dirty conversation a week earlier. The blood drained from my face and we stared at each other surely thinking the same thing, how did they get this??
This was it. We were done. They were giving us these transcripts as a way of “rubbing our noses in our pee on the carpet” and next we would be brought to the backyard and put down executioner style. Instead, our parents had another punishment in mind to teach us how wrong our conversation was, one a bit more creative.
Alyssa and I, sitting on opposite couches, had to read aloud our conversation to one another, each of us reading our respective parts. It was like a read-through/dress rehearsal from hell. A week earlier we were practicing our Bible verses to each other, prepping for tests at school. My how far we’d fallen in just a week. Was this how Satan felt when he betrayed God and fell from the heavens? I could only imagine so.
With my best friend’s mom watching, the woman I loved and viewed as my second mother, I had to say to Alyssa, “Your mom is a bitch and a hoe.” Alyssa replied, “you’re the biggest mother fucker that ever lived and your mom is a bitch.” Our puppy dog eyes, red faces, and constant apologies after each read line had to be somewhat satisfying to our parents. At one point, my mom stopped our read-through and asked me with the seriousness of a drill sergeant, “Courtney, is that how you feel about Natalie? Is she a mother fucker and a bitch?” To this day, I cannot understand how she didn’t burst into laughter asking that. She was good.
I think it took us thirty minutes to get through our conversation. It was the most painful, embarrassing, and gut-wrenching thing I had ever been forced to do, and I felt true remorse for the things I had said. I know Alyssa did too. We didn’t mean any of it, we were just being stupid kids. It is a punishment I will never forget, and I actually have to applaud our parents for their creativity.
But to this day, Alyssa and I still have a burning question: how did they get that transcript?? Alyssa’s mom says she doesn’t remember and it’s been awhile since I’ve asked my parents, so maybe I’ll try again soon and they’ll finally give up their secret. It’s been 16 years and they just won’t fess up.
Maybe this will be the year I finally break down those motherfu%*#$!