Close encounters with the wooden spoon
With the controversy in Melbourne of a mother who was brought before police and still could be charged with assualt for using wooden spoon on her daughter, we at the Punch thought we’d share with you wooden spooning techniques used in our families. Were you subjected to the wooden spoon? Is it acceptable or based on an outdated notion or corporal punishment?
Growing up in family of nine children discipline was not merely an issue for parents at one point in my family we had our own militia and counter-intelligence organisation.
I’m actually surprised that we all survived some of those punch ups that would quickly escalate into riots putting those Nigerian crime gangs to shame.
The problem for my parents was that we were not only violent at times but possibly the world’s biggest smart arses in a fight. So while parents were attempting to quell the violence we could point to the fact that said mother looked like some kind of insane rampaging clown in her bright pink morning robe.
I would’ve just hired some retired South African riot police and gotten rid of the lot of us.
So yes the wooden spoon was wielded by my mother, but not very effectively.
I recall one time - it could’ve been after my brother knocked my front tooth out with a toilet brush or I had put his head through a window, no sure which – that it just broke over my adolescent shoulder. It became apparent to both of us that the wooden spoon was neither a deterrent nor an effective disciplining tool, so perhaps the best thing to do was for me to stop acting like a complete dickhead.
The scarier option was actually my father’s ninja like ability with a rubber thong, which he could throw from his foot in mid-stride, have land in his hand and smack around the bum or ‘earol’ of said misbehaving child (why was it earol, never just ear).
Fortunately I live to tell the tale, albeit with a life-long fear of rubber foot wear.
The wooden spoon in our place stayed in a utensil jar in the kitchen.
It would get mentioned if we refused to come in for dinner and on a few occasions I believe my mum actually took it out of the jar and waved it towards us.
In the 1990s the Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children started an anti-smacking campaign.
My mum was an ISPCC social worker at the time and saw first-hand the trauma and fear kids went through when they were hit regularly, and would publicly berate mums and dads if she saw parents raising a hand in the street.
Having seen this and the resulting supportive crowds it draws on several occasions, I reckon an excellent and probably much more effective deterrent than fines or short jail sentences would be public shaming by means of being yelled at by a formidable character for several minutes in the tinned foods aisle at a supermarket.
When I was little I was kept in check by my mother’s famous stare, which closely resembled The Force, and was so powerful it could even stop a almost grown teenage boy in his tracks.
I have memories of a wooden spoon being brandished in my direction, but no recollection of it ever connecting with my behind. Of course, as an optimist I might have just blocked out the memory.
I’ll never forget the sound of the kitchen drawer being pulled out at rapid pace.
We laugh about it now but once you heard that at our place, it was time to run for your life! Down the back garden, under the bed or out the front door, it didn’t matter. It was every man for themselves to avoid my mum and her wooden spoon.
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