No Child Spanked Behind

EditorialBy Phil Erwin

I was carrying Christmas packages to my car when I heard the pitter-patter of bare little feet scampering up the sidewalk. I glanced to my left to see a doll-sized blonde beauty training for the next Olympics (or maybe the one after that) in what looked like a yellow Shirley Temple sundress. Her mother was standing perhaps a football field away, holding another daughter and calling to her budding Olympian to Stop! Come back!   The tiny track star paused a moment, looked back over her shoulder and yelled, “Why?” in a little-kid tone. Which is to say, she shattered my eardrums and rattled my car windows. Apparently she was not yet winded.

Maybe a problem child here...

Maybe a problem child here…

“We have to go back home now!” came her mother’s response – a reply heavy with subterfuge and desperation. Her genius daughter instantly picked up the subliminal signals, and immediately turned back to her former heading and commenced another hundred-yard dash. Sensing a domestic crisis, I shifted my packages and stepped into the young lady’s path, intending to delay her with my superior bulk and a few well-wrought adult-isms, which I was hoping to compose on the spot.

Cleverness was not, it turned out, going to be necessary. The yellow waif put a one-stride-sideways move on that would have shamed OJ Simpson in his gridiron heyday. She blew by me like I was a cigar store Indian.

OK, I’m thinking. Now you’re in it. Whaddyagonna do, old man?   I turned back to assure her mother I would help, and at that moment gained a clear understanding of just where Yellow Doll’s running genes had sprung from. ‘Cause here comes Mamma, charging by me at full tilt on quarter-horse-slender legs, bare feet pitter-pattering with a bit more authority than her daughter’s.

I watched for a moment in amazement, wondering if I had ever been able to run that fast – never mind looking so graceful. I glanced back to where this race had seemingly commenced and saw Daughter #2 sitting quietly on the sidewalk, twiddling her thumbs, or whatever it was she had in her hands, apparently oblivious to the human drama playing out. I called: “Your Mom’ll be right back!” Apparently a waste of words, because she either didn’t hear me, or didn’t particularly care what I had to say. Twiddling continued unabated.

There was no way I could catch up in time to help corral the little filly. I figured the best I could do was stay where I could see the Twiddler in one direction, and catch glimpses of the contestants rounding the curve in the other. Eventually, I could see that Mommy was about to collar the kid, and with Twiddler remaining in place, I figured the drama was done and went back to loading packages.

Mommy must have chased Mini-Mommy a quarter-mile or more. Hard to believe a kid with legs shorter than my tibia could cover that much ground that fast, and bare of foot.   Mommy carried her yellow Pegasus back. Maybe this was a daily exercise ritual, the kinetic equivalent of morning yoga. As far as I could tell, neither one of them was winded.

What really caught my attention, though, was how completely undisturbed Mom seemed to be. As if leaving one child sitting street-side unattended while chasing another one into the next county was no cause for consternation.

This incident got me to thinking how life in America has changed in my lifetime. Sixty years ago, when barefoot children were common and sidewalks were less so, you would never have seen a young girl running from her mother like that. Boys were more precocious, but even they would not have shown total disregard for Mom. Argument, maybe. Some complaint, a few Awww, shucks! foot-scuffs, perhaps even a feint or two. But not complete disdain for the parental lasso.

And you know why not? Because every child knew what was at the other end of that invisible parental rope: The Spanking Hand.

Kids misbehaved all the time. But not with complete abandon, and not like little anarchists. Nobody that small got away with that kind of disrespect. The price paid in butt smacks just wasn’t worth it.

book9_0But the national penchant for self-discipline was changing by the ‘Sixties, when parenting morphed into a quaint afterthought trailing along behind Free Love, and discipline became a sexual adventure rather than a means to civil society. Riding that wave of social transmographication, propelling it, perhaps even causing it in some ways, was that paragon of anti-Calvinism: Dr. Spock.

No, not the guy with the pointy ears. The pediatrician with the penchant for promoting pseudo-psychology. Benjamin “Can’t We All Just Get Along?” Spock.

Spock wrote a book on child care in the 1940’s. He apparently thought (mistakenly) that he knew something useful about psychology. His book, which eventually sold more than 50 million copies, carried a message for parents than might be paraphrased, “Hug them, don’t hurt them” for bumper-sticker purposes. One might wonder whether it was the good Doctor who came up with the “softer approach to parenting,” or whether in fact it was the influence of his ultra-Liberal wife. Regardless, people figured (mistakenly) that he must know what he was writing about, and took that particular message for gospel. Pretty soon, they were rearing a nation of brats.

Watch Penny Marshall’s classic film, A League of their Own, and get a belly-full of the “loveable” little tyke “Stilwell” that Tom Hanks finally beans with a baseball glove.   That’s the behavior Dr. Spock’s followers nurtured.

Once Spock’s spanking-begets-bullies idiocy took hold, the Left pushed his ideas into the legal realm, where child-endangerment was redefined to mean any parental behaviors that even hinted at reining in a child’s naturally self-endangering or public-annoying behaviors. Soon, “spanking” was synonymous with torture, and parents felt as though keeping their hands in their pockets was the only way to stay out of jail.

Dr. Benjamin Spock

Dr. Benjamin Spock

Where did all that brilliant child so-called psychology leave us? With entire generations that know absolutely nothing about delayed gratification, diligent effort and socially-acceptable behaviors. With pants-on-the-ground, eff-you music and 70%-fatherless subcultures. With millions of young Americans that have absolutely no respect for authority, no concept of a day devoid of drugs, and no clue what they are doing unless it’s on a video game screen.

Nice job, Doctor. You have single-highhandedly hobbled the best nation humans ever conjured up.

What really drew Michael Brown, Eric Garner and Antonio Martin to their deaths? It wasn’t the police.

It was Dr. Spock, his Leftist wives, and generations of lackey-mommies that took his spanking-doesn’t-work stupidity to heart.

(Should I take a Time-Out now?)

Phil Erwin is an author, IT administrator and registered Independent living in Newbury Park. He sometimes wishes he could support Democrat ideals, but he has a visceral hatred for Lies and Damn Lies, and is none too fond of Statistics. If his writing depresses you, he recommends you visit Chip Bok’s site for a more lighthearted perspective.

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great piece, the sixties generation are victims of their own BS. Me included.

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