Flashback: Red Beans and Rice

Home and School Discipline were pretty much one and the same for the Menter kids.

We were, after all, homeschooled.

But there were a few items distinctive to the school environment.

Items like Red Beans and Rice.

Flashback Friday buttonToday Linda asks… How strict were teachers when you were in school? What were common methods of discipline? No recess? Writing sentences? Being sent to the principal’s office? Were “pops” or “swats” allowed? …

We were mostly self-directed students after the first or second grade. We had the assignment sheets Mom gave us at the beginning of the school year and we were responsible for working our way through them day by day and asking questions if we needed help.

We generally started the year with great intentions of “getting ahead”, but we generally spent most of our time “getting ahead” in certain subjects that we preferred. Meanwhile, we “got behind” in all the rest.

And eventually, the novelty of “getting ahead” wore off and we’d “get behind” in everything.

Riding our bicycles or reading a book or playing with legos was immensely more fun than doing math problems or “reading” (the subject). And so we just ignored our work altogether.

Dad would end up coming home from work only to have to sit on us to do our work in the evening.

I’m sure Mom and Dad tried all sorts of things to get us to stay on schedule–but I only remember the one.

Red Beans and Rice.

My dad finally figured out a way to get us to do our schoolwork before supper. He issued an ultimatum. If our work wasn’t done by suppertime, no matter what the rest of the family was eating, we were having red beans and rice.

And I’m not talking the spicy Southern dish.

I’m talking kidney beans from a can or cooked on the stove. White rice. A bit of salt.

Dad made up big batches and froze it in individual freezer bags.

If we kids weren’t done with school when he got home from work, he’d pull out the appropriate number of servings and reheat them for the errant children.

We’d sit in stony silence, pushing red beans and rice around our plates while the rest of the family ate Swedish meatballs and mashed potatoes…or lasagna and breadsticks…or meatloaf and baked potatoes.

The next day? We’d get our school work done before Dad got home.

For the record, allow me to remind you that my parents were NOT (and are not) abusive. We still got plenty of food–both through our other meals and from the red beans and rice themselves. Furthermore, no one chose to repeat the experience for too many days in a row. I doubt any of us had more than two or three meals of red beans and rice during even our most “behind” weeks.

Red beans and rice were a powerful disciplinary tool, let me tell you!

Read more at Mocha with Linda’s Flashback Friday Meme

Flashback: With a stick

Once upon a time, there was a police officer who went to our church who had a nice tip for parents who believe in corporal punishment. “Use a ping-pong paddle. It hurts but it doesn’t leave a mark.”

Flashback Friday buttonToday Linda asks… Were your parents strict, permissive, or somewhere in-between when you were growing up? Did you tend to be compliant or rebellious? What did you tend to get in trouble for doing? How did your parents discipline/punish you…

My parents believed in corporal punishment. We were spanked when we disobeyed–sometimes with a hand, sometimes with a ping-pong paddle (yes, if that happened to be handy), but most often with a wooden spoon from the kitchen.

I don’t remember any specific instances of being spanked–although I know that I was probably spanked rather often, at least as a young child.

The one spanking memory that I do have actually turns the tables a bit.

I remember the time we kids spanked my dad.

Dad had gotten home from the store and was bringing in his purchases when something was discovered to be missing. I’m not sure what it was, but it must have been something that was pretty desirable to us kids. Maybe candy or something like that.

Anyway, Dad couldn’t find it anywhere, so he launched an investigation of us kids. I’m not sure what the investigation entailed–but I do know that Dad got pretty steamed. I don’t think he spanked anyone because of the incident, but I could be wrong.

At any rate, we kids were held responsible for this missing item, which Dad later found. When Dad found it, he realized that the fault was his.

So he gathered the kids together, took us outside and showed us what had happened. And then he put his hands on the top of the zucchini car (our station wagon), bent over, and invited us kids to spank him for punishing us (or yelling at us or whatever) for his own wrongdoing. And so we did, lining up for a chance to smack Dad’s butt (we used our hands.)

I don’t remember any form of punishment other than spanking being used until we were old enough for grounding from friend’s houses to be an option.

In this day and age, I think most people would consider that sort of scheme abusive. But really, even if our family might sometimes SOUND abusive, it certainly was not.

Two of our favorite games to play with Dad had names that sounded abusive. “Kicks in the Butt” and “Chasing around the yard with a stick.”

“Kicks in the Butt” were offered as inducement to do some small task. “I’ll give you a kick in the butt if you…fetch me a glass of water” for example. “Kicks in the Butt” involved Dad picking one or another of us up and lightly kicking our backsides with his knee, causing us to swing back and forth in his arms. We loved it.

“Chasing around the yard with a stick” was a common cure for cabin fever, more often known as “You kids are driving me UP THE WALLS” (an exclamation occasionally heard from Mom after a long day homeschooling a half dozen squabbling children.) When Dad saw that Mom had had enough and needed the house to herself, he’d have us children bundle up and we’d go outside where he’d “chase us around the yard with a stick.” He took a pencil in hand, and off we all went, running and laughing that Dad couldn’t possibly catch us.

Those were games, not discipline. Dad’s kicks and sticks were fun, not fury.

Really, the primary form of discipline in our home was what my Grandma Menter (deep in the throughs of dementia) termed “beating religion into their heads.”

Again, the term is a complete misnomer. Religion wasn’t taught us by beatings–it was taught by modeling. We learned to obey, not because we were compelled by a stick, but because we were drawn by love–love for God, love for our parents, love for one another.

My story of spanking Dad is a metaphor for what “beating religion into their heads” looked like. It looked like my parents humbling themselves, even before their children, modeling Christ-likeness and urging us to follow after the same God they served.

And ultimately, it was not a stick but a carrot–the grace of God bestowed on sinners such as we–that taught us discipline.

Hear about how other people were punished/disciplined with Mocha with Linda’s Flashback Friday Meme