Saturday, December 6, 2008

Preacher Feature

(Continued from previous entry.) 

The cemetery seemed to be where this family liked to hang out. When we got there, the girls and I took me on a walk while they pointed out the graves of people they knew. Then we all went up and sat in a little gazebo while the father led the whole family in about 10 minutes of hymn-singing. 

What was supposed to be a spiritual, or at least pleasant, experience just seemed creepy. There was a military flavor to the whole thing -- especially the way they all fell into song in a split second, as if they'd be punished if they didn't. 

Which they would be. Back at the house, while we had lunch and I tried to keep Snookums from crawling out of the high chair and onto the table, "Teresa," the mother (not her real name) explained that they start "disciplining" their children at three months. 

"Whenever they touch something they're not supposed to, you basically give their hands a little flick," she said. She also tried to claim that this didn't hurt them -- but this didn't make sense because she'd just finished saying that they would associate the "sting" with that behavior and therefore not do it again.

"You don't childproof your house," her husband added, "you houseproof your child!" 

As I tried to hold Snookums down so she wouldn't fall off the high chair, she started fussing. Shoki -- a young Indian guy who was hanging out with the family for the weekend -- joked, "Looks like you could use some of Teresa's discipline." 

"It's not Teresa's discipline. It's God's discipline," Rachel said. 

As we were leaving, the family gave us a creepy Amish book about disciplining your kids called To Train Up a Child. It advocates using "switches." 

Now, whenever Snookums misbehaves, I tell her, "If you don't watch out, I'll send you up to Maine for some Amish discipline!"


Goody 2 Shoes said...

Kids used to behave better when they were afraid of being hit (disciplined) by their parents. But there is something awry w physical punishment. If you hit a kid as punishment for hitting, what is that teaching? Good thing you got away from those Amish, tho it makes a good story!

Joan Novark said...

I have to say, these kids were VERY well behaved. But too well behaved -- they didn't act like children. Still, sometimes I'd look at Snookums trying to crawl on the table and then look over at their two-year-old, who was sitting perfectly still and not making a sound, and think, "Hmmmm...."

Joan Novark said...

Oh, and it's not Amish discipline.

It's God's discipline.

Goody 2 Shoes said...

I agree w current psychology (what I have read) that it is not necessary to make kids fear parents, that kids will be better off not (if not better behaved) if they grow up without being hit or threatened. Still I DO spank, and my kids still act wild at any opportunity. What happened after the family visit to the cemetary?