John and I were down by the pond that is only about a seventy five yards from the back of our house. We were skipping rocks counting how many times we could get them to bounce. John could always out throw me, but he’s a boy of course and boys are supposed to skip rocks better than girls! John had just thrown his rock and we were counting the skips when Mother’s voice shattered our concentration. “John Jackson! Amy Renee! Your father has been calling you for fifteen minutes!”
Although I was only nine and John was eleven, we had learned a long time ago, any time our mother or father used our middle names when calling us we better move and move fast! Because it usually meant we were in big trouble!
We instantly dropped our rocks, turned to each other in alarm and remembered; Dad had told us at the breakfast table that morning before we went to school that we were to clean the horse stables when we got home. John and I had been putting it off for several days. We knew it was our responsibility, but we always found something else to do that was a lot more fun than cleaning out smelly horse stalls. That morning dad made it very clear, “If you do not clean the stables when you get home from school today you will be in big trouble!” To place emphasis on his last statement he looked at both of us and asked, “Do you hear me John… Amy?”
I swallowed hard and nodded up and down. John replied with, “Yes sir!”
How could we have forgotten? Oh man! My heart was beating hard in my chest, and my hands became sweaty. Dad was a wonderful father, hard worker and great provider but when he got upset hell could not match his fury!
We ran as fast as our feet would take us toward the stables. As we ran past the back door, mother was standing on the porch with her hands on her hips yelling, “Your father is waiting for you in the barn, and you’re in hot water!”
I felt like I was running towards the end of my young life! We turned the corner of the house and there was dad, standing in the doorway of the barn. When he saw us he threw his hands up in the air, turned and walked into the darkness of the stables. “Maybe he is not so mad after all?” I tried to console myself. Boy was I wrong!
John reached the barn first; I was just a few steps behind him. Dad was leading the last of our three horses out of the barn to the corral. John and I walked toward the stables; dad had already leaned the rakes and shovels against the wall and set the wheel barrel out. We did not wait for dad to come back in; we grabbed the rakes and got with it. We were steadily working when dad walked back into the barn. We didn’t even glance up! Hoping that seeing us work, everything would be alright. It wasn’t.
Dad cleared his throat, we glanced up and dad said, “Did you know that the good book says that if I spare the rod I will spoil the child?” John looked up at father and answered in
Almost a whisper, “Yes sir”. I simply held my breath.
About that time mother walked into the barn and announced that supper was ready. We
Laid the rakes down and began to walk towards the house. Dad stopped us, put his hand on our shoulders and said, “I will tend to you after supper.”
Supper did not last long enough. I fiddled with my mashed potatoes, ate two bites of fried
Chicken, and did not even touch the corn. When dad was finished eating he stood and announced, “Meet me in your rooms.”
That night dad seen to it that John and I would not be spoiled! We never did forget to clean the stables after that night.
About fifteen minutes after my spanking father tapped on my door, pushed it open, and slowly walked in. Still lying on the bed, he came and sat down beside me. I will never forget his strong arms lifting me up, Dad held me tight, rocked me back and forth, kissing me on my forehead. He didn’t need to say a word, I understood, I was no longer in big trouble.
Father was doing his best to instill in my brother and me principles that would mold us into, responsible adults. Principles of obedience, respect, strong work ethics and most of all how to stay out of ‘big trouble!’