Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Say What?!

During one of my home visits a few years back, I visited the home of a sweet, chatty-Cathy-type kid. A real character, she talked a mile a minute and insisted on showing me everything she was proud of (which included everything but the kitchen mop.) Her home was filled with kid-type artifacts and lots of arts and crafts she had made with her mom. Even Dad was involved in helping with some of the projects. It was clear that this was a family of people who loved each other and supported each other in many endeavors.

Finally, we sat down to talk about her coming to 6th grade at a new school. Her mom, a classroom volunteer and caring parent, cautioned that at her new school, there would be referrals if she did not behave properly. She didn't seem to be the trouble-making type, and I innocently asked,

"What happens at home when you get in trouble?" thinking the child would speak of parental disappointment and loss of privileges. She stated, matter-of-factly,

"I get yelled at and my mom spanks me with a belt."

Mom was (understandably) mortified. "I do not!"

"Mom!?! Yes you do."

"No. Remember? You sat on the steps the last time."

"Yes, right after you spanked me with the belt; my butt was sore! I remember it!"

(Um. Looks like I stepped in something.)

I almost died laughing (inside). Not that getting spanked with a belt is funny or anything; it was just so funny to hear this little girl be so sweetly persistent in the face of her mom's denial. Mom assured me that her daughter rarely got in trouble at school. I asked my student how she could avoid getting spanked at home. She smiled and sheepishly admitted she should be good in school and follow the rules.

I did not get the sense that this mother beat her child or that the little girl was in any danger, so no, I did not report this incident to Child Protective. I did follow up with the little girl at school, and she admitted that her mom really did not hit her very hard with the belt; it was more to "get her attention." She was a happy, well-adjusted child who loved school and did not get a single referral all year.

Maybe it was the threat of a spanking?

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