04 August 2018

[Bess Tuggle] - Memoirs of Surviving Children: The Equalizer

Discipline was always difficult in our chaotic household. Maybe difficult isn’t the right word. Challenging might be a better description.

Time-out was always my first go-to. Depending on their age, there were times when it worked, and times when it failed miserably. My 3rd son sat in time out for 4 hours one time because he refused to say the word “Please.” He wasn’t getting up until he said it though (and proved his Irish stubbornness at 3 years old). He even took a nap in time out. His oldest brother, kneeling on the top stair going down to the basement pleaded with him. “Just say please, PLEASE?” I finally heard “Peez” and told him he could get up and go play. I’d had many more years to cultivate my Irish stubbornness than he had, Mama don’t play chicken, so it was all in, or nothing. I won that one. I didn’t always.

Next was time-out on your knees with your nose against the wall and your hands behind your back. That one didn’t last long. Once they learned to lick the wall and drive me out of my mind I just –had- to give that up. A clean spot on the wall meant I had to wash ALL of it. It simply wasn’t worth it. I lost that one.

No-screen restriction was one of my favorites for a while. No-screen meant NO SCREENS. That meant TV, computer, Game Boy, phones.. anything with a screen on it was off limits. I caught a couple of them cheating. That’s when I learned to turn the breaker off to their rooms. If you were on no-screen restriction, you pretty much had to stay in your room. I wouldn’t punish the rest of the crew for one’s misbehavior. That meant the basement was off limits (TV down there), the living room was off limits (TV in there), so you were pretty much stuck in your room. I would offer books though. Win for Mama!

Last resort was the paddle. It had a name: “The Equalizer.” The Equalizer was originally a small sized cutting board, but it warped. It just had a small curve to it, enough to make it worthless for cutting on, but the curve was perfect for a little butt. Two inches could leave a butt cherry red, and they were always told if they’d get one pop, two or three. I never spanked in anger, but I did spank when they earned and deserved it.

The Equalizer lived behind the microwave. It really didn’t have to come out often. I just pulled it out and set it on the kitchen counter. When it –did- come out, kids and pets alike straightened up. Yes, the dogs’ knew it, too. If Mama got that far EVERYONE better pay attention.

Now that my children are grown, the Equalizer has been retired. Sure I’ll share a couple more stories about ‘er, but I wish I had it back. Now that my children are grown, and I hear the truth behind more of their stories, they earned more pops than I ever gave them.

I can’t ground them anymore, but wish they’d ground me – to my room, with a book.

Bess 

A jack of all trades, Bess Tuggle has been a Covington resident since the late 70’s. She's been a K-Mart cashier, cabinet builder, vet tech, office manager for a beef cattle ranch and water well company (where she was able to hold benefits for D.A.R.E. and Scouts), a court reporter, business manager, assistant at a private investigation firm, legal assistant, convenience store clerk, landscaper and elementary school substitute teacher.  Her greatest pleasure is being a wife, mother and grandmother.  Her stories are all real, and all names will be withheld to protect the innocent, and also maybe the guilty, depending on the crime & the Statute of Limitations. 
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