This week I chose to share a section of my book. We have a growing problem of non-existent childhood discipline in our society. Are we so concerned with being our child’s friend that we sacrifice the one thing they need most in life? Someone telling him or her “No!”
(Excerpt From Failing At Fatherhood)
“Jack Jr., please turn the radio station back to where I had it,” was the only thing my mother said as she calmly kept her eyes on the road. I ignored her and looked out the window. I knew she was caught in a difficult position because she valued car safety, and would not risk taking her hands off the steering wheel to change the station. This was my day and this outdated woman needed to understand my newfound independence as an eighth grader. Then it happened quickly and suddenly while I was looking out the window. That terrible country music came blaring back across the speakers. I was shocked. Did something happen to “my” rap radio station? As I turned back to look at the radio, I caught a glimpse of my mother’s hand going back to the steering wheel. She had actually done it. She had reached over and turned the station. I was furious. She had ruined my perfect plan and stolen the story I would share with my crew about how I had opposed my mother. I felt defeated and humiliated. I was in middle school and she needed to respect what I wanted to listen to and when I wanted to listen to it. Then it happened. I am not sure why it happened because I had been taught to never use profanity, but it transpired anyway. I looked at my mother with defiance and stated, “I don’t want to listen to this ****** ****** station!”
It came like a flash of lightening. Looking back now, I am not sure how she moved so quickly. My mother always seemed to be passive and methodical in everything she did, but not this time. She slapped me across the face with such vigor that the blow would have honored Muhammad Ali. My head went crashing into the window and I felt the sting of a thousand little bees attacking my face. The surprise of this woman striking me, who always passed on the punishment to my father, made it hurt even more. The tears and snot were gushing full stream, and the awkwardness of the radio station battle was insignificant compared to the waterfall of embarrassment I now felt. Slowly I looked back at her, and I could see the anger in her face as she was also crying. Quietly, like a silent whisper, she instructed me to never use the Lord’s name in vain around her again. The remainder of the trip consisted of me crying with my head against the window and my mother gripping the steering wheel like it was a wild animal.
Nothing else was ever said about the incident for the remainder of my childhood because the message had been delivered. Even now some twenty years later, when I ask my mother about it, she smiles and states she has no recollection of the incident. Maybe she does not remember the slap, or maybe she has chosen to forget it. Regardless, it has been etched in my memory as one of those events I will never forget. That morning I was ashamed of being whacked by my forty-year-old mother, but something else happened that I never admitted to anyone else. I gained a respect for my mother that I had never before experienced. My mother, the quiet, non-combative person in my life, did what needed to be done at that moment to correct my behavior. I deserved to be slapped for what I had said to her and she obliged me by slapping my face.
Sometimes as parents we have to do the one thing we hate for our children, correct their behavior.