In hindsight, I probably was not quite as strict a disciplinarian with my girls when they were growing up as I should have been. Certainly nothing like how my dad disciplined me. I realize now that I let my kids get off too easy. Case in point:
Me to my daughter Emily when she was ten: Hey, kiddo. Your room looks like a tornado just came through. Would you mind cleaning it up now, before you go out and play? I’d really appreciate it.
EMILY: That’s so unfair. Madison’s parents never make her clean up her room so why should I have to?
ME: Every family makes its own rules, and unfortunately for you, you’re a member of THIS family. Now, just make your bed, put away your clothes and pick up the leftover pizza, and then you can go have fun with your friends. Thanks. I love you.
EMILY: I HATE YOU! You are so mean! You can’t make me!
ME: I’m trying to be patient here. Don’t make me ask you again. Clean up your room now – or else!
EMILY: Or else what? You’ll give me another timeout?
ME: Um, actually, yes. Plus, I’ll take away your cell phone until you’ve cleaned your room.
EMILY: No, you won’t. Because you need me to remove that virus from your computer that you got from downloading that stupid Elf Bowl game.
ME: Shoot. Okay, help me with my computer when you have time, and I’ll let you clean your room later. But that room better be spotless before you leave for school tomorrow morning, you hear me?
EMILY: Sure. Whatever.
ME: Hey, listen, Em. You’ve no idea how easy I am being here. Just be grateful you didn’t have MY dad for a father….
My dad to me when I was ten: Hey, where do you think you’re going? No playing with your friends while you still have chores to do!
ME: But I did almost everything you asked me to do. Can’t I just play outside for fifteen minutes?
MY DAD: Not until you clean out all the air ducts and finish cleaning the gutters. Do it this instant!
ME: But I already mowed the yard, did six loads of laundry, vacuumed every room and even waxed your car. Can’t I just play catch for ten minutes?
MY DAD: No, young man. Don’t make me ask you again or else I’ll ground you for a week!
ME: Okay, dad.
MY DAD: WHAT DID YOU JUST CALL ME?
ME: I meant, “Okay, SIR.” I’ll do it immediately, sir.
MY DAD: You’re damn right you’ll do it immediately, you ungrateful whippersnapper. Son, you have no idea how easy I am on you. Just be grateful you didn’t have MY dad as a father….
MY DAD: I apologize, father. I thought you would not mind my taking a very short pause in my work since I’ve been milking the cows since 5am this morning and it’s now half past 8.
MY GRANDPA: So you think you’re entitled to just lollygag when there’s work to be done, eh? Did I raise a laggard for a son? You will finish milking the cows – and slaughtering the pigs – and you will do it because I said so. What an indolent son. And no food or play until you’ve also taken five bushels of corn to the market.
MY DAD: May I use the tractor, father?
MY GRANDPA: No. You lost your tractor privileges. For your impertinence, you can walk the ten miles. Use that time to ruminate about your shiftless attitude.
MY DAD: Don’t you think you’re being a little harsh, father?
MY GRANDPA: Why you insolent, impudent little scoundrel. No bed to sleep in for you for a week! How dare you talk back to me with such defiance! Be thankful your old man was not like my father’s father….
My great great grandfather, Jedidiah Jones to his son Nathaniel, age ten: Here, boy. How is it you are gallivanting so frivolously when you have yet to finish building the barn?
NATHANIEL: Papa, I meant no disrespect, sir. But I am overwrought with fatigue from working the past four days on the barn you charged me to erect. The roof is well-nigh complete, as are all 14 stables and all but the barn door. Surely Papa wouldn’t protest if I rested briefly so I could attend to a short game of marbles with the neighbor boy, Lucas?
JEDIDIAH: In the name of the Lord, what manner of son be willing to defy me with such vile words of unmannerliness? You shall complete the barn – in all its aspects – or be no son of mine.
JEDIDIAH: Listen, my impious, languorous progeny. You shall complete that which I have commanded you lest I visit upon your backside the strap and paddle until your hindquarters should pray for mercy, of which I possess none.
NATHANIEL: Dear Papa. May I pause from my labor merely to wipe my brow? Surely, this is not an ill-mannered reque –
JEDIDIAH: SILENCE! Not another utterance. Finish the barn or from this day forward, the savage wilderness shall be your domicile and tree bark your tastiest repast. Harken now my words and be gratified your father bore not a resemblance to mine own. Ah, such a wretched bastard was he…
Yeah, in hind sight, my kids got off pretty darn easy with me for a dad. Come to think of it, my daughter never did clean up her room that day. Sigh.
That’s the view from the bleachers. Perhaps I’m off base.
Check out my latest humor book: YOU’RE GROUNDED FOR LIFE: Misguided Parenting Strategies That Sounded Good at the Time
© Tim Jones, View from the Bleachers 2016