So you had a rough upbringing? Got hit with the "korbatch" one too many times? Too many trips to the woodshed or the basement? Oh yeah, we've all been there and done that. Or have had it done to us.
We watched our parents disagree to the point where they needed armor to defend each other. Or how we watched the dog or cat go sailing over the back porch railing when they decided to "christen" the new living room carpet.
And kids are supposed to emulate their parents, right? They're supposed to be like Mom & Dad? So why aren't we in jail by now for crimes of spousal, child and animal abuse?
I'll tell you why. Reverse psychology. "If you take up smoking, I'll beat you to within an inch of your life", spoken by a concerned Mom with that Lucky Strike hanging from the corner of her mouth. Or, "I brought you into this world and I can take you out of it", spoken by a father after 5 rounds of a "beer and a bump" down at Bortz's. Do as I say and not as I do. But how do you STILL explain the "I wanna be just like my Old Man"?
Even in a child's tender and mixed up mind, we see things that impress us and we see things that scare the pants right off of us. We knew that our parish priest didn't need to be married to have kids to slap around. But we knew that if we went home and told Mom or Dad that Father Steve gave a little "size 12" discipline or that Mrs. Butler cracked us with a paddle, we'd get twice as much for just saying so.
So where's our own Easter Rebellion or Tea Party? Why haven't we gone back and beat the living daylights out of Mom, Dad, Father Steve, and Mrs. Butler? Why don't we we just snap when we've heard "Why can't you act like Piwowar's kids?" for the nine hundredth time?
Maybe there's a reverse psychology going on? We had front row seats to our own special brands of discipline. But we're missing the point. We WERE disciplined. We were threatened with death. OR WORSE. "You just wait until your Father comes home". A minor stay of execution.
In my own case, my parents did not set a good example. But they TAUGHT one. And those of you who are reading this can probably say the same, unless your name is Beaver Cleaver or you're one of those "Three Sons". Man, they had it good. Or did they?
Most importantly, even though we were threatened with death and dismemberment, we survived without too many physical scars. Or even without too many emotional ones. I find that the typical Smock kid who is now in his or her 50's or 60's is well grounded, fair, and genuinely loving toward any offspring they created. It's love. But where in all of that violence did we find love?
It was there. We just chose to look at the bad side. We just chose to concentrate on the welts on our collective dupetchkas. But somewhere beneath the curse words and threats, there was love. True and honest love which stays with us to this very day. Love that causes us to stop short of things that would possibly land us in prison. Love that is taught by a coal miner with a 5th grade education.
Why aren't we all in jail? Because if we were, Mom or Dad will find us and boy, we'd have hell to pay.
We aren't perfect. Unless you asked our parents about us when we weren't around. Then suddenly, we'd grow a halo.