"Spanking is an act of violence, so ethically, it could be justified only if there was absolutely no other way to improve the way kids act." – Ken Gallagher
"He had to stand in the corner, crying, until he stopped. When he did not stop crying, she spanked him" says my soon to be eleven-year old son.
"She hit him?" I asked rather shocked.
"Yup. She was mad at him for the thing he did with the door. She yelled at him for that. He started to cry because he got yelled at and then he wouldn’t stop crying. So she told him to stand in the corner till he stopped. He still wouldn’t stop and then she spanked him" he insists.
"Huh?" I say. My mind is having a hard time computing the information.
"Are you serious? You are not kidding me?" I ask.
"NO! Mah, I am not kidding. Ask him yourself." my son demands.
I turn to my youngest son, seated on my right. He is looking down towards the floor and swinging his feet, clad in new white sneakers, to and fro.
"First, stop swinging your feet. You might trip the waiter. Second, is that true? Did she really hit you?" I ask.
"Yeahhhh" he mumblers softly. "And it hurt my feelings, Mom." he says even softer.
I want to cry. I look across the table at my ex-husband and he is also wide eyed.
"Um, are you going to do something about that?" I ask the father of my sons.
"Yes." he says as he reaches for his phone.
"Not here. Not now. Later, please." I ask.
"Okay" he says as he places his phone back into his shirt pocket.
Holding back tears, I reach over, pull my youngest son towards me and kiss him in the middle of his forehead.
"I am sorry that happened to you" I say.
"Its okay, Mom. You didn’t do it" he says as he begins to swing his feet again.
Yes, a caregiver spanked my son. A caregiver that I trusted, we trusted, HE trusted. She told us about the incident that occurred but she did not tell us the entire story. We did not hear about crying, corner standing and certainly not hitting.
My son has never been put in a corner and never been hit. Regardless of where I do or don’t stand on you hitting your children, I have never hit mine. I have never needed to. I don’t believe it as a parenting style for ME. I was hit as a child – more times than I care to remember. I also went to the hospital and had stitches. When the doctor asked me what happened, I told the truth. I got hit later for doing that. Apparently, I could have gotten the pugilist adult in question in trouble by telling the doctor the truth. I was supposed to lie.
I don’t hit my children. I use other forms of discipline and they are quite effective. Everyone, and I mean everyone, tells me I have incredibly well behaved sons. I do and I have done it without inflicting flesh wounds.
I feel awful that my son was hit by someone he trusted.
I mused over the conversation on the way home from the restaurant. It occurred to me while I comforted and apologized to my youngest son, I failed to recognize my oldest.
"Nik, thank you for telling Mom and Dad what happened. You are a very good big brother. You did a really good thing by telling us." I say.
"Okay, well, it just upset me Mom. It wasn’t right. He didn’t do anything wrong and gosh, HE IS ONLY FIVE YEARS OLD." he says.
"I know. I agree. But again, this is not about him right now. This is about you and how right you were to tell us. If anyone, any adult that you know or don’t know, ever hurts you or your brother – in any way – you always tell. Even if they tell you not to. You always tell Mom or Dad okay?" I say firmly.
"Yeah, Mom, I know." he says.
I continue to driving and try to hold back my myriad emotions. Guilt, anger, sadness, and a bit of rage simmer inside me.
I cross over Mountain Road and decide I better let my ex handle it and I vow to stop thinking about it until I hear further.
And then the voice creeps up, the voice of the forgotten mother, the voice only I hear, the voice I have only recently begun to listen to
The voice asks me:
"I wonder if [daughters name] was ever hit as a child?"
At that possibility, my tears begin to fall again.