I'll leave it to you dear Reader. Did the punishment really fit the crime?
A few clues.
The room was the nursery.
The victim, a three month old infant.
What's the big deal anyway, smothering my baby sister and burying her body?
After all, I was only five years old. I've been told about my little misdemeanor all of my life.
By the way, the weapon was baby powder.
What I actually remember of the day was how much fun it was. At first anyway. How was I supposed to ignore the temptation of a huge box of baby powder sitting right there on the changing table?
I crept out of bed where I was supposed to be taking a nap.
Psychologists undoubtedly can tell you what led me to the temptation to make it snow all over the nursery, with the heaviest drifts falling right on top of her.
The snowfall stopped abruptly when I heard footsteps approaching. Tossing the empty weapon, I leaped back into bed and pretended to be asleep.
Not the best of alibi's I know. Hey, I was only five.
Most of what I recall right after that was a belt and Mom on her knees on the parquet floor with all it's narrow little cracks between the wood tiles. Ouch, thinking back on that.
And the words, “Wait until your Father gets home.” A rather familiar mantra, I'm afraid.
The next thing I definitely remember though is what happened when my Dad got home. Well, that and the half hour before he got home while I dreaded his arrival.
“Sit on that step,” he said, pointing, his voice dramatically stern. Looking up at him I wondered how he got so much taller suddenly.
The cottonwood tree in the middle of the front yard had a lot of branches, down low.
Slowly and very deliberately, my Dad circled that tree. The selection had to be just right. It sure seemed like he spent close to an hour looking for that switch.
In reality, probably five minutes.
With the same deliberateness, he reached into his pocket and felt around among the coins he always had in there and eventually his hand came out with his pocket knife. Do men still carry those I wonder?
Reaching up into the tree, my Dad took hold of a long, thin little branch and the poor thing had to be sacrificed for me.
Purposefully and resolutely, with justice administrator in hand, he turned and approached me.
Now, what I can tell you about that particular form of discipline is this. I'm sure the switching on my little legs was done with great love and a certain degree of pain and unhappiness on the part of us both. But, the real deal was what led up to it.
So, did the punishment fit the crime? In my view, I was probably punished the least.
By the way, I should add that my sister is fine and my best friend to this day.
Phooey with Dr. Spock, and time outs and all that other phony stuff they think is better for the mental health of the child. Those who decry corporal punishment are missing the boat.
What parents need today is just to watch my Dad in action.
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