Long Road

August 19th, 2014 § 4 Comments

Back in the old country, corporal punishment was permitted in schools. Teachers doled out the pain in various ways but the preferred technique was the ruler across the hands. I’m not talking a flimsy, 12 inch ruler; I’m talking the big, honkin’ yard stick variety. Or am I remembering through my seven year old, terror filled eyes? Whatever. Either way it hurt. I can still hear that thing woosh as the little lady wrapped it into my palms. The thing to do was boldly open your palms up so that ruler caught all flesh. Of course, I was never very bold. My timid, flinching hands would cup to take most of the force on the thumbs. If you were one of those repeat offenders, you’d get the ruler to the back of the hands – right over your fingers and knuckles. I never got that; the palms were enough to straighten me out.

Most of my classroom experience in Korea lies disintegrated in the recesses of my mind, but one event remains pristinely preserved. I was late to class … about five minutes. When I walked in, my teacher, a woman I can’t even remember called me to the front. I got that “Oh no” hollow feeling in my gut that seems to sap the strength from your extremities. I’m pretty sure the most intense version of this is where we get the term “shittin’ in your pants.” When I got up to her, she slapped me. Really, it was more an open hand swat over the entire side of my face. I remember stumbling to retain my balance. The shock of it got me so disoriented, it was all I could do to keep from peeing in my pants. She said something about not ever being late again. I turned to walk to my seat; the classroom blurred. I kept my head down to hide the tears flowing down my cheeks.

I’m pretty sure I was never late again.

As fathers, we must figure out a way to motivate our children. We need to teach them to obey. Instill values. Build character. Most of this is at least initially an uphill proposition. Kids don’t naturally mature. This part of fatherhood takes focused, patient persistence. In the midst of it, you’ll be tempted to use “devices” – things that you know intuitively will get you an immediate response. In the end, these will be their undoing. If behavior modification is all you’re after, shaming your kid will work. Threats of abandonment will get them up and moving. Asking why they can’t be like so and so will get them so angry that they may actually do the work to prove you wrong.

In the immediate, yeah, you’ll get what you want. But at what cost? Take the long road. Love them. Tell them of all the good you see. Take the time to properly discipline without cruelty or shame. Push them to live up to who they are meant to be. Take the long road. Light that thing in them that will burn pure … pure and clean.

§ 4 Responses to Long Road

  • Pil Ho Lee says:

    Great post. Good encouragement and reminder for me as Lauren’s daddy. It made me sad to think about that incident you got side swapped to disorientation. Also wonder if shame has almost an equally, jarring effect but often glossed over as motivation.

    • Q says:

      yeah, that’s exactly what i was getting at. that incident was the combination of fear and shame. the humiliation was more painful than the smack. it made me hate … my powerlessness and so in a way hate myself. that dreadful hatred got me moving but never knowing how to stop, slow down, make peace with myself.

  • Pil Ho Lee says:

    Wish someone would’ve jarred that lady’s world to tears and show her how that must’ve felt

    • Q says:

      Haha…thanks for the outrage. Maybe somebody did. Mistreated people often turn around and take out their misery on powerless. A vicious cycle of abuse

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