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Spanking didn’t kill us

By Pam Pastor
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 00:17:00 02/04/2009

Filed Under: Family, Youth, Children

I SPENT a chunk of my childhood lying facedown on my parent?s bed, waiting for my father?s belt and my mother?s slippers to strike my behind.

My crimes were not remarkable, just typical childhood mischief: fights with my brother, refusing to eat dinner, not taking notes in class, coming home from school with my arms covered with ballpoint drawings.

It?s unheard of for a lot of new parents?especially those who no longer believe in the principle of spanking. But that?s how it happened then, when we were kids. Kids misbehaved and parents spanked. Or worse.

Angry red handprint

One time in grade school, I glared so hard at my mother during an argument that she slapped me. It was a hard slap that left an angry red handprint on my face and made my eye clot. Naturally, I wasn?t able to go to school the next day. My mother exercised her creativity and wrote in my excuse letter that I ?fell off a chair.? Right.

My mother was the queen of pinching. I hated trying on clothes in department stores and so to force me into the dressing rooms, she would pinch me?on the arm, on the legs, anywhere, actually, leaving my skin sore and throbbing.

My father, who has quite a temper, was an expert in spanking and giving surprising jabs to the head. One night, he caught me reading a book while brushing my teeth. He wasn?t pleased because I had been brushing for more than 30 minutes and it was way past my bedtime.

In his fury, he lifted his fist. I thought he would hit me but he punched the wall instead. I was glad not to be that wall.

My brother once went to school with the imprint of a hanger still on his leg. He can?t remember what he did but he remembers the angry marks.

My cousin Chrissie, who lived in the house next to mine, received her share of spanking. Once, she left the door open, accidentally letting the dog into the house to devour the steak on the dinner table. She was spanked and asked to kneel for a long time to think about her mistake.

She was also spanked when her younger sister Fifi had to be rushed to the emergency room with broken glass on her foot?because Fifi dropped the glass Chrissie asked her to get from the kitchen.

Hangers, rulers, brooms

Yes, most of my friends were spanked as children?and not just with belts and slippers. Parents have used hangers, rulers, brooms. Belts are extra bad, they agree, because sometimes the buckle can hit you.

Some smartened up, padding their pants with newspapers so the spanking wouldn?t hurt.

In high school, I watched a basketball game after class, not knowing that my mother was already in the car outside, waiting to take me home. I got into a lot of trouble for that.

In the car, my mother gave me a good scolding, pulling my hair and my blouse. By the time we got home, my uniform was torn.

My parents weren?t the only ones who got creative with their punishment.

My best friend Jason cannot forget the day he was caught by his mom playing outside with friends when he should have been inside studying.

He recalled the afternoon?s events in an e-mail to me.

?You see, the punishment for breaking the rule was that I would be bagged up in an empty sack and thrown out to the street. It sure is funny now, but it certainly wasn?t funny that time?my sister, yaya and I truly believed it, hence, the crying and wailing and hysterics.

??Maawa na po kayo (Have mercy),? my yaya interjected. But my mother stood her ground. She ordered me to enter the sack, which was laid in front of me. I did as she told, stepping in one foot before the other, after which I sat down.

?My mother went as far as tying the sack closed?after that, I don?t remember how the drama ended, though I surely wasn?t thrown out: Apparently, I was Punk?d by mom.?

Kneeling on rock salt

Other friends were asked to kneel on rock salt or beans while balancing heavy books on their arms. It hurt like hell, they said.

Some friends were locked in their rooms or in bathrooms. Parents who didn?t resort to spanking grounded my friends or took away privileges?no dinner, no video games, no TV. But they were the exception, because most of us were punished with physical pain: slapped bottoms, pulled hair, pinched ears.

These stories will alarm anti-spanking supporters?people who are part of groups like Project No Spank and NeverHitAChild.Org?but for my generation, they were common.

It was painful then but we laugh about those days now. We learned our lessons, we grew up to be responsible people (or at least I?d like to think) and, in the future, we might even spank our own children.

E-mail the author at ppastor@inquirer.com.ph.

Next week: Should you spank?

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