Natural history of a boy#039;s discipline

Published 12:00 am Saturday, February 21, 2004

Some old friends came into town last weekend and we began talking about our childhoods.

Naturally, the topic of the discipline we had received for our various bumps in the road was the number one topic of discussion.

All of this caused me to ponder how the whippings of my life had changed through the years.

So I decided to make the history of Rick's discipline the topic of my column.

Before I get started on that I feel that it is necessary to let everyone that my parents weren't tyrants.

They did not throw out these spankings for no reason. There was usually a significant act on my part that would trigger swift discipline.

I forced my parents to take action very early in life.

My first memory of the spanking was of the bare-handed variety. Though it sounds like this kind would not be very successful it was more than effective in getting the point across.

The bare-handed spanking got the job done for a certain period of time.

They left no doubt that whatever I did was wrong.

But things change. As I grew the bare- handed spanking no longer had the desired effect.

Meet Mr. Switch.

The switch was like nothing I had ever seen at the time.

I remember the first time the switch came into my life very clearly. I remember thinking to myself that there was no way that such a thin item could pack much of a punch.

I was wrong.

It was right about this time that I made my first strong conscious effort to monitor my behavior.

Anytime I had the bright idea to misbehave in church I would always keep the thought of all

those little switch-producing bushes that grew outside.

But a boy can only behave for so long and soon enough another change was needed.

The third and final change that would be needed would come in the form of an old classicthe belt.

After the belt there would be no need for an upgrade.

It usually took a very serious violation to make the belt appear.

It didn't come out very often because it didn't have to. After limited appearances throughout my elementary school years it wouldn't have to. By the time I was close to high school I had figured it out.

This is not to say that I never got in trouble again. It is impossible for a growing boy to behave all the time.

I did manage to avoid trouble severe enough to make the belt make another appearance.

As I wrap up this column I would like to reinforce that my parents were not bad people.

Growing up in a small town the spanking was a very common form of punishment.

These days it is a dinosaur. Spankings have taken a backseat to "timeouts."

I'm not saying that there is anything wrong with that.

Every child is different. Because of this each child has a different way of being reached.

For me, the spanking was more than effective.

Rick Couch may be reached at

383-9302, ext. 132 or

via email at rick. couch@greenvilleadvocate.com.