Boundaries and the Lessons of Youth

Boundaries and the Lessons of Youth; Hello! I have been gone for a while, working in my old age, realizing that no one wants to purchase the knowhow associated with cleaning manufacturing liquid waste. One would be surprised to know how much water is used to manufacture all the various products that we use, and it gets dirty, real dirty.

That said, Fox News offered an amazing piece this week concerning spanking, and the impact that it makes on children, potentially harming and destroying their social competency for life!! Now having been a recipient of that spanking attention as a child, one tends to realize that the study came to the wrong conclusion.

My childhood was an exploration, it was an adventure! But with that, there was the real consequence of behavior malfunctions. I have been on the receiving end of belts, wooden spoons, fly swatters, horse whips, rulers, yardsticks, pointers, paddles without holes, improved paddles with holes to reduce the wind resistance thus allowing for maximum acceleration prior to impact, broom and mop handles, old ropes, broken water hoses, sticks, dust pans… whatever was immediately available for my parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, older cousins, nuns, priests and concerned neighbors to ensure that I was corrected…. Immediately!

Yes, tears reduced the length of corporal punishment, as did death row statements, such as, “it will never happen again.” But regardless, the punishment was laid quickly, all in the name of correcting an action so that improvements in behavior could be realized.

Looking back at the youthful carnage, the executioner, the provider of discipline, would exclaim that the execution of punishment would hurt them more than it hurt the offender, for they did not relish the task, but they had a responsibility, they had a purpose. They simply wanted the recipient, the guilty child not given the benefit of trial by jury, to grow up better and become a contributing member of society! Apparently, carrying out the sentence was a form of love, which as a kid was beyond comprehension.

But did this carnage hurt my social competency for life? NO!! Other than not being able to sell my company, my social competency is great! People that interface with me know that I will tell the truth and keep my word. Companies that I serve do not ask for contracts, they provide a simple Purchase Order, the money goes one-way and the service goes the other.

Business associates and friends see what was engrained in my brain at a young age and then re-enforced by a weapon of correction. Mind you, I was not bad. Yes, I did not gain membership in the National Honor Society due to my conduct grade in high school. But that was conduct, that was pushing the boundaries. That same behavior occurred at the Naval Academy, simply pushing the boundaries that were attempting to contain me. However, that conduct, that behavior never involved the core principles of not lying, cheating or stealing.

As a 6-year old kid, I saw a Lone Ranger badge at W.C. Grants department store. I took it and wore it with my single shot cap-pistol and cowboy hat around the farm. My Dad noticed it and asked where I found it.

At W.C. Grant’s” I replied. “Where was it?” my Dad asked.

Oh, it was lying on the bottom shelf.” “What was it on?” he asked.

Oh, it was on a Lone Ranger shirt.” While my Dad did not graduate from college, and barely from high school, he was smart! “Was it on the shirt or pinned to the shirt?” he continued.

That last question was the deal breaker. “It was pinned to the Shirt?” Perusing the interrogation, he asked “So why did you take it?

Had I been older, I might have said “Well, Adam ate the apple!”, but thank God I had not studied the Book of Genesis.

My answer was the single greatest excuse ever given to kids as they are born — “I don’t know.

I cannot remember what exact tool was used to exact the appropriate amount of punishment. When it was over, not being the brightest bulb in the package, I asked, “Can I keep the badge?” There were so many times growing up that I was just stupid, and it continues today! Yes, phase two commenced with a different weapon.

But it did not stop at that point! My father believed that I paid the price at home, but there was the injury to the store.

It is a terrifying experience to admit guilt for doing wrong, especially as a kid. It is painful to look up at an adult, to meet the stare eye to eye, to mutter an apology and throw yourself at the mercy of the offended.

But that is what I had to do. I explained exactly what I did, and why I did it. I apologized and swore that it would never happen again. I stood silent, expecting yet another rendition of “how tough is your butt”, but it did not happen!

Instead, I spent 4-hours each Saturday morning for the next 4-weeks, sweeping and cleaning the store, re-folding and arranging the merchandize on the shelves, forced labor to erase the stigma of being a 6-year old thief!

So, what is the point of the story?

Children have a limited attention span that can easily shift from topic to topic. And it gets worse when you are over 70-years old.

That said, the world has boundaries, lots of boundaries, good boundaries and bad boundaries. Now you may think that I am talking about the southern border, or the confines of a city. But I am not. The most important boundaries are those one learns as a child, so that they can participate in life and truly become a contributing member of society.

Stay tuned for the next installment.

Tom Weaver, Patriot © 02/2

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