Question of the day: What was the naughtiest thing you ever did as a kid?
Thing 3 was caught in a failure-to-confess last week. A week ago Monday morning saw a mother stonily dragging her child onto the early morning school bus. Normally, this mother does not make an appearance at the bus stop so this, in and of itself, was rather unusual. Stormy, as I am going to call the mother, threw her fifth grader onto the bus and proceeded to recount her daughter’s sins. The daughter, it turns out, was the ring leader of a group of children who ran across the busy street outside our compound and proceeded to buy several boxes of “Safety Firecrackers”. Les petites pyrotechniques had quite a go of it, lighting them off on the playground and around the communal areas of the compound. Stormy’s daughter caved into the devil and made the mistake of throwing one at her sister who promptly ran home and told her mother. Thing 3 was not implicated. End of story.
Or so I thought. At dinner that night we had a long discussion about fireworks, how playing with firecrackers was akin to playing with fire. Thing 2, having played with fire at age nine, sat silently, recalling the smack bottom that ended his career as a hooligan. Playing with fire is a spankable offense in our family; lying about it makes it more so. Thing 3 soaked up the maternal wisdom, including the invitation to confess any participation during the event, affirming the naughtiness and dangerousness of the act.
The next morning I received the following text message, written on the bus:
Mom I was in the group with Girl XXX. Girl XXX wanted to do it and I wasn’t thinking right I regret what I did I am going to get a spanking when I get home I wasn’t there after I left im really sorry all I did was watch from far away I didn’t light any and I didn’t cross the street because I am not allowed I know I am grounded no phone no playing for 2 months im really sorry
Which was followed shortly by:
I stayed 10 meters away from the firecrakers [sic] I didn’t say anything or touch any now i realize that I should have told them to stop
Ok am I going to get a spanking?
Hello? Am I going to get a spanking?
I used an old trick of my mother’s – sweating it out. My mother used to say to me, “Go upstairs. We’ll talk about this when I am ready.” My mind, as a child, would begin to spin, devising hideous scenarios, alone in my bedroon. The outcome with my mother, while it frequently made me cringe, was always more pleasant than the punishment I was expecting.
So I did not respond to Thing 3’s frantic texts. She called in the afternoon and I was prepared with my mother’s line. She arrived home before me and was waiting for me in her bedroom.
“So am I?” she said.
“Are you what?”
“Getting a spanking?”
“Do you swear you did not touch them?”
“Nope, I did not touch them.”
“Did you cross the street?”
“But you were a bystander and you failed to tell me about this when you had an opportunity. If you are lying to me now, and I find out, the punishment will be severe.” I pressed on.
“Grounded for a week, no spanking,” I pronounced.
“WHEW! Now I can take off all these clothes!”
“I was all suited up for the spanking. I have on eight pairs of underpants and they are really uncomfortable.”
It would never have occurred to me to suit up for a spanking as a child. Do we think Bernie Madoff is prepared? I’m guessing his bank accounts, at least, are all suited up. Padding, however, can only get you so far when the fix is in.
N.B. Thing 3 would like her grandparents to know she is not a bad kid. This was published with her permission.