We don’t have a ton of rules for the kids. We ask them to say “please” and “thank you” and “Yes sir/ma’am” and “No sir/ma’am”, and to clean up after themselves, and to generally not be jerks. That’s really about it. However, for the few rules we have, we expect them to be followed, with few exceptions or questioning. I don’t mind a “why” every so often, but it better be asked while doing the task. We’re old-school like that, and we’re not above whipping some ass to drive home a point or two. Spare the rod, save the bail money.

One of the few rules we have is no eating in the den where the kids watch TV. It’s a fairly new rule, based on the fact that orange soda is REALLY hard to get out of carpeting, especially if the parents are utterly unaware that the orange soda is ON the carpeting until it sets in, and looks like Clemson University took a piss in my crib. So, after more than one (try 33) of these types of incidents, after trying rewards and punishments and other non-working ideas, we cast down a blanket rule from high on Mount Parenting: no more food in the den. Period. At all. End of story.

Now – any of you with kids know that THAT is NOT the end of the story.  Kids are a joy and a blessing unto all who have them. They are also the lyingest, most deceitful, most conniving and cunning creatures known to mankind. Even moreso than cats. By no means did I think my two hellbats would immediately bow down to this shift in policy – hell, I would’ve been disappointed if they had, actually. Everyone should question authority sometimes. But by God, if you’re gonna break a rule, all I ask is that you be slick about it. Which my kids, mainly 8YO, aren’t.

Tonight, after soccer practice for 4YO, we had KFC. I set it all up on the table for them (’cause I’m a kick-ass dad like that, people), and settled into the living room to eat my meal. Note for all non-parents: Parenting is an exercise in hypocrisy. Just about every parent out there has said, at least once, “Do as I say, not as I do!” You kinda feel bad about it at first, but just like a pair of black jeans or your dream of being rich, it fades over time. So as we’re sitting in the living room, eating chicken and watching “The Closer”, I notice 8YO jump up from the table and run into the den to watch TV. We’re not real sticklers about them staying at the table until they’re finished eating dinner. With 8YO’s ADHD, you learn early on to pick your battles carefully, and he won THAT one a long-ass time ago. But the way our house is designed, you can see right into the den from the living room, and what I was seeing I couldn’t believe: he was lying on the couch, munching on something, with a handful of something else. I walked over, demanded to see his hands, and he showed me more popcorn chicken than I ever thought he could fit in his palms. I gave him a simple warning: eat in here again, and I’ll spank you. Elegant and to the point, and spoken in the language of children: Fearish.

After asserting my authority, I settle back in front of the TV show, and got really into it…for about 10 minutes. Their mom happened to look over at them sitting on the couch, and couldn’t believe her eyes: 8YO was eating over there AGAIN! Well, I’m a man of my word. If I say I’m gonna spank, some spanking is going down, people. I don’t fake the funk, and I never say I’m gonna do something and then not follow through. Those runabouts will think they can run ME then, and that just ain’t happenin’. I got up, grabbed the paddleball paddle that we use for adjusting attitudes, and walked over to him as he lay there, chewing and trying not to look like he was chewing. I was calm like Eminem’s mom with a valium in her palm. I said “Stand up.” I never raised my voice, never even frowned at him. This conversation then took place.

Me (like Dirty Harry): “What did I say about eating over here, 8YO?”
8YO (voice quivering): “You said don’t eat over here.”
Me: “And what are you doing right now?”
8YO: “I’m…eating over here.”
Me (calm as hell): “And what did I say I would do if I caught you eating over here again, 8YO?”
Me (chill like ice cream): “That’s right. I did. If you want to break the rule, this is the cost, son. Now, move your hand. If I hit your hand with the paddle, it’ll hurt a whole lot worse than hitting your bottom.”

At this point, Mom comes over to observe. Mind you, I haven’t laid a fingernail on 8YO at this point, but he’s literally crying and screaming so much, you’d’ve thought I dropped him off at Andrea Yates’ house for babysitting.  And really, by now, I’d already decided I wasn’t going to spank him. I woulda thrown down on him from the get-go, without all the commentary beforehand. But I viewed this as an ideal learning situation, and I’m all about educating young minds. I gave Mom the wink to let her know I wasn’t really gonna do it, but that I WAS gonna terrorize educate him, having been given a golden opportunity to do that. She hugged him, effectively holding his arms and hands away from his backside while I went on with the charade.

Me: “I want you to repeat after me, 8YO. And don’t look at me – look at Mom.”
Me: “I will…”
8YO: “I *sob* will…”
Me: “…not eat food…”
8YO: “…not eat food…”
Me: “…in the den anymore.”
8YO: “…in the den anymore.”
Me: “OK. Now, it’s time.”

At this point, he was sobbing so much that he was utterly incoherent. And I started feeling bad. A little. I mean, he DID break a rule that I had JUST warned him about. But that bad feeling faded like a red shirt in a load of whites. This was all about the learning. After he recited the rule, I reared back the arm holding the paddle. Way back. His eyes got as big as saucers, and he tried to get away, but to no avail. I swung that paddle like I was Barry Bonds, and his ass was about to be home run #756 — and I stopped it about 3 inches from making contact with his butt. He flinched – well, convulsed, really – and when no smack came, he just looked at me in confusion. I looked at him, and I said “Next time, I won’t stop. Don’t…eat…in…the…den.” And he said “Yes sir” through his tears. Parental high fives were then exchanged.

I know that some of you will view my actions as cruel. That’s fine. But I made my point, I reinforced a rule that he purposely and willfully ignored, and I did it without laying a hand on him. And you can best believe he’ll remember this the next time he just HAS to eat pretzels on the couch, instead of leaving them on the table 5 feet away. This is the real power of spanking — the threat thereof is often more potent than the administration thereof.  So feel free to disagree, if you so choose. Booyah.

One brief Badger the Witness note — Pirate and I have finally settled on a wager. The first person to curse on Sunday’s show will write a lovely, glowing poem about the other, and post it on both blogs. So Elle, dust off your rusty rhyming skills, you Em Effer. It’s on like Archbishop Don “Magic” Juan, baby. So TUNE IN, PEOPLE!!5pm CST. Be there.