A Whomping Upside the Head

It’s been interesting to read perspectives of that Baltimore mom who went after her son, who thought he was going to be engaging in the riots there. As with most things today, it was caught on camera and now she finds herself a bit of a media celebrity. He tried to ignore her, but mom would not be ignored. Yes, there was some colorful language screamed, and then mom resorted to what some of us would call “whomping him upside the head.” He turned, and retreated, mom at his heels.

I guess I better give my thoughts about discipline here. I am in favor of spanking younger children. I don’t think they can necessarily understand the full impact of words at younger ages, and spanking (with some well chosen words) clues them into the fact that what they did was wrong. I don’t think spanking is the only punishment one should use, and I don’t think it is necessarily the right one for all children and all situations. I think often it works better with boys than girls (because I think boys are often more impacted by physical touch.) I believe spanking should not be done in anger, should not leave marks, should not be done with most objects (belts, for example)  and should be accompanied with words that precisely lay out the offense. And I don’t think you have to agree with me or punish your kids the way I would. Admittedly most of the time when I was in a mother role (house parenting at a children’s home), I was in an unusual situation in which I didn’t find spanking appropriate. I’ve babysat the children of friends and family members and respected their rules of discipline (which often included spanking). But…..I didn’t want to spank their children and I don’t recall ever having to spank any of them…..we’ll see if any of them have different memories. Usually the discipline I dished out was crazy creative “punishment must fit the crime” types (I got to have fun with it)….or a lecture where they would have much preferred a spanking rather than hearing me drone on. Usually the kids were really good for me….or an evil eye worked.
By time a kid becomes a bit older, I think the rules need to start changing. They can understand when they do wrong (and there is often stronger premeditation), and I think it is more difficult to control your anger and the urge to cause pain if you resort to spanking. I think their humiliation gets in the way of proper correction and can send the wrong message. You’re teaching them to use words to solve problems instead of physically fighting, so physical punishments can get things confusing. Plus I think hormones do crazy things to kids and often those hormone-riddled bodies need soothing rather than having anyone else riling them up. So….I think other punishments are probably more effective than spanking. And cursing at your kids….I am against it. Especially when accompanied by bad grammar.
So why am I OK with Baltimore mom? Because she was going a bit nuts. Her child was in a danger zone. He was old enough to run away, to totally ignore her, to hurt her or someone else. She had to get him to see her, to listen to her. Acting a bit crazy worked. He looked a bit stunned….and certainly tried to get away. But his surrender was quick. She never really hurt him, she got his attention, and she got him out of there. She might have saved his life….at the very least she probably saved his future. She helped him the best way she could at the time. In doing so, she probably kept others from getting hurt, property from getting destroyed, and got her precious boy out of a horrible situation.
If your child is running out in front of a car, you do not stand at the curb and say “Sweetie, we don’t play in the street.” No, you run out in that street and grab them, probably yelling at them the whole time. You may even leave a few bruises, from clutching their arms so tight. “Leave no marks” me would call you heroic. As a parent it is your job to teach your kids right from wrong, but at critical moments you may have to forego civility and become that mamma bear whose first instinct is to guide and protect. Looking a bit crazy is allowed. And if done well, most effective.
That young man needs to be grateful he has a momma who will not let him do stupid without a fight. Yep, he has probably endured a bit of humiliation and ribbing from his friends as a result of all of this, but I suspect he knows the truth. He is adored. He is cherished. And he has the excuse to end all excuses “No, I can’t do that. You know my momma….she’ll come find me….she is crazy.” And yes she is. She is crazy in love with her baby boy. I don’t think he will ever forget it. 
So yea mom. It may not have been pretty, but it sure was effective. Sometimes we all need someone to whomp us upside the head and save us from ourselves. When it happens, know you are blessed and loved.

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