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Don’t be writing any bad words

You can’t beat ‘em nowadays, and I’m certainly too old to join ‘em.

Now when I say “beat ‘em,” I don’t literally mean to beat them senseless—let’s get that straight right now. I don’t want any emails or phone calls from upset mamas about how I said their ill-behaved children should be beaten.

This train of thought came from several recent outings where, time and again, I would witness a youngster basically pitchin’ a hissy fit. I, being a former English teacher, know good and well that this phrase is not grammatically correct; however, if you’ve lived in the South long enough to get a good sunburn, you know what it means to pitch a hissy fit.

I tried pitchin’ a hissy fit in Belk Hudson’s one day when I was about 8 years old. My mama was shopping for me some clothes, and the last thing I wanted to do was try on clothes—I’ve never liked it—I have to be in the mood to go shopping, believe it or not. Well, it seems I was definitely not in the mood on this particular day, and I began whining and carrying on—and then it happened.

My sweet, little mama took her iron fist and reached down and got a handful of my hair—I’m talking right at the roots—and pulled just as hard as she could. The fact that she could do this and all the while keep the calmest demeanor and the sweetest smile on her face is rather unnerving even to this day. No one around us even knew what she was doing. The point is I got the point. My mama didn’t have to say a word. By the time I was standing on my tippy-toes just to keep the roots of my hair still intact in my head, I knew it was time to straighten up my act—and I also knew it meant I was going to get it when I got home.

So much for my hissy fit.

I also learned at an early age that stealing of any kind would cause utter destruction and could lead to my early demise. At the tender age of six, I decided that I needed some Super Bubble Gum at Capp’s Drug Store in Greenville—you know, the big, pink kind in the blue wrapper. Now, I knew the gum had to be paid for—I just also knew that I needed to chew it right then and there. So I dutifully took my empty wrappers and laid them on the counter when I saw my mom checking out. Then it happened.

My big, brown eyes met hers, and I knew, I mean I just knew, that I had committed an unpardonable sin.

Once again, without a word, and with that same sweet smile, my mother and I left the store in silence.

By the way, have you ever had to pick your own switch? That’s right—you know you’d better not come back in the house with some little spindly something, or you’d be in even bigger trouble.

While growing up, I always had to endure the tortures of my older brothers, especially from Britt since he was closest to my age. One day, I secretly discovered Britt on the back porch talking with one of his best friends, and let’s just say, they weren’t using “appropriate” language. Well, being the dutiful daughter that I was, I decided to write down all of the “dirty” words Britt was saying so I could show Mama and then get him into trouble. After all, he had no business talking that way, in my mind.

Mama walks in from a hard day at work only to be greeted by a very excited young’un waving a piece of paper in the air.

“Mama, you’ll never believe what Britt said today!” I said loudly, as I was so proud of being on the “righteous patrol” that day.

Mama took one look at my list of Britt’s bad words, took one look at me, and laid the paper aside. Well, I couldn’t understand why she didn’t just go tear him up right then and there. After all, it was he who had used such vile language.

But what I had forgotten was how good of a speller I was.

“How’d you know all of these words as being bad words?” my daddy asked me when he got home and Mama showed him my list.

Well, I just really didn’t have a good answer to that question.

“But Britt said them!” I whined.

“But you wrote them down—how’d you know which ones were bad?” Daddy asked again.

After all that hard investigative work, I was the one who got in trouble.

Actually, I’m pretty sure Britt got a good talking to, just not in front of me.

Parenting is not a job for the faint at heart.

After discussing hissy fits and hair pulling with Samson, my 21-pound tomcat, we discovered that we both had permanent bald spots on the tops of our heads from those silent hair pullings—he just uses his little kitty toupee to cover his.