Looking Wooden

Angry joints held stiff at right angles
Physical attitude tells all
Mother holds the wooden spoon
She’s poised to mete out blows
Compassion stops her
Arms akimbo
Discontent
Elbows
Bent

This is my latest for the NPM 22 Flex Scavenger Hunt for prompt #10 – Write a Nonet poem or write a poem using the words “joint” and “bent”. The nonet is a count down poem that starts with a line of 9 syllables and each following line is reduced by one syllable. There are no requirements for rhyme or meter.

And now the rest of the story: Sparky has a t-shirt that he found at Goodwill that all of his siblings covet. It has a drawing of a wooden spoon with the words “Wooden Spoon Survivor” emblazoned across the front.

Sparky is one of 6 kids and his mother had her hands full with 4 children in 3 years! To maintain order she was liberal in her use of the wooden spoon. Her reasoning at the time was if one was in trouble it was a sure bet that the others were in on it or were at fault for not trying to stop the activity. The sound of the utensil drawer in the kitchen being jerked open sent terror through the hearts of Sparky and his siblings. Even today the ka-chunk-ka of that drawer results in a sharp intake of breath. The kids would have to line up and put their hands on the kitchen table edge and several swift swats with the spoon would be applied to their backsides. They eventually aged out of that punishment and have straightened up and flown right ever since. This group punishment did accomplish one thing. They all became their brother’s keepers. They were quick to divert inappropriate behavior among younger siblings (mostly for self preservation), were always watching out for each other, and it also gave them a one for all and all for one mindset.

102 thoughts on “Looking Wooden

    1. I’m so happy that you liked this poem! I can’t imagine anyone choosing the wooden spoon, but actually I had a friend who was hit with her father’s belt… I think she’d have opted for the spoon! Fortunately I think those days are fading as corporal punishment is disappearing from the schools and perhaps that will trickle down to the home…

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    1. Ouch! Seems that corporal punishment isn’t really all that effective – usually for me it was the pain of disappointing my parents more than any physical punishment… For Sparky it made them all their brother’s keeper!

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    1. So glad you liked the poem! I was lucky – it was always just a swat with the open hand on my bottom… And only one as we were ordered to “time out” to sit on the sofa in silence! Sparky was a terror as a child and was usually the cause of everyone lining up. He was #3 of 6 and his older sister really kept him in line…

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  1. Hahaha, I remember the wooden spoon, although I don’t remember ever getting hit with it. We had a neighbor though who would slam them against things when she was angry and had so many broken ones. I don’t think she ever hit the kid that hard, I think I would have remembered that. Funny though because I was saying to David just the other day that I don’t really understand how hitting your kid is something that is going to work. Is it just because you get so mad? I think I spanked my kids once each but I even remember then wondering what the heck I was trying to prove. I also remember once when my daughter was in her teens and her and I were in a bad state of affairs ( long story), but she used to try and egg me on. I raised my fist one day and told her to leave or I might end up hitting her. I don’t know if I could have but I remember she would make me so mad! Punishment for my kids was usually some crappy job that had to be finished at home before privileges were resumed.

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    1. Hehe! I didn’t spank either and fortunately the boys were well behaved so I never went through what all my friends with daughters experienced (demon possessed teens)! Sparky’s mom enforced order and although they cringe when the utensil drawer is opened, none were scarred for life and they are a very tight knit group! We put a lock on the computer room door and thus limited access but generally they were free to use the computers…

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      1. That was part of it….my kids behaved. I don’t want to sound like they never did anything wrong but I taught them to suck it up and face the smaller consequences than lie and make it worse. Mistakes happen and unfortunately that is something some parents either don’t understand or don’t have patience for.

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        1. Yes, we knew that they’d test the boundaries and we also tried not to react with anger! I think many parents react when a more thoughtful approach would garner better (and more effective) results!

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          1. Yes, and contrary to what many parents think, I didn’t treat my kids like “little adults” or “little individuals with their own ideas”. I mean yes, you know, but they are not adults. Still doesn’t mean you need to freak out to show you are mad. Even now, I would rather walk away until I cool down than get in an argument while I am fuming.

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            1. If I was yelling/raising my voice at them they knew I was upset. If I whispered at them they were terrified. The whisper meant that they had crossed the boundary and were going to lose some cherished perk – like computer or TV time or even worse having the Pokémon cards locked away for a time… We allowed them to have input in decisions but it was a “benign dictatorship” where we would take their suggestions under advisement but the decisions were ours to make and all decisions were final…

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    1. Ha! The flyswatter?! That had to have some sting to it!! At our house the flyswatter was considered the ultimate in germy-ness and no one was permitted to touch the business end. Even washing it wouldn’t satisfy my mother’s germ phobia concerning the swatter!

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      1. Tee hee! Well,…she held it but never used it! The yuckiness of it was a great deterrent! Plus, it looked very authoritative and Mom carried it well! Ha! 💛

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  2. NPM 22 Flex Scavenger Hunt reply for prompt #10
    BEST I COULD DO WITH TIME ALLOWED~!

    MY WAY~!

    If you may think I would smoke a joint
    you may have another think coming.
    not wanting to disappoint
    other ways for numbing.
    Wine and booze conjoint
    keep me humming.
    Get the point
    how I’m
    bent~?

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    1. If you may think I would smoke a joint

      you have another think coming.

      not wanting to disappoint

      other ways for numbing.

      Wine and booze conjoint

      keep me humming.

      That’s a hint

      how I’m

      bent~!

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    1. There was one time when Sparky was bouncing a ball in the house, was told not to, did anyway and broke a lamp. When the broken lamp was discovered no one would fess up so everyone got the wooden spoon. Then when his mother had left, they all gave him a piece of their minds (and I think the younger sisters might have thrown some punches at his back while the older sister delivered a few well place kicks to his shins)! He learned to take responsibility for his mistakes and possibly to avoid those kind of mistakes altogether! hehe!

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    1. Thank-you Punam. I liked the way this Nonet turned out! My parents were rather progressive but then again they were both trained as teachers. When most of my friends were punished with a belt, mine would give us a smack on the butt and make us sit on the sofa (to think about what we’d done and why it was inappropriate)…

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    1. That’s the smart way to do it! If I had to buy retail for my clothes I’d be broke! As it is I look nice, fashionable, and my bank account is healthy!! Hope you find the perfect outfits (for a fraction of the cost)!

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  3. I remember very clearly being about 8, and we were six kids. At the table you would hear a pleasant, kind; “please pass me the rice, etc” One evening we were at the dinner table and my mother, upset over something, said “if I here the word “meat balls” one more time I will scream”, ,,,,,,,under my breath I said almost in a whisper “meatballs”.

    My father go up, went to the garage, pulled a plank off an apple crate and whittled a neat paddle with a handle. He was back in about two minutes with a finely made paddle which even had a hole to hang it, and told me if he ever again heard me “smarting off” at my mom he was going to use that paddle on me~!… He NEVER had to use that thing and it hung in the dining room until I left to go away from home to school..

    I was a grown man with kids of my own before I really appreciated how he handled us, but I felt that using the hand on the butt was better, because that way I would knew the same hurt I was giving out, and can’t remember needing to do this that more than once or twice.

    But my mom used mental terror on us, if we squirmed or wiggled in the two hour long church service, and someone noticed, telling her about it, she would say: “you are going to get it when we get home”. I still felt that was unfair because all I thought about for the rest of that long service was hoping that she might forget about it. She rarely did, and plum trees have thorns on them, and the switch would leave big welts.. I am sorry but this only taught me to hate that church and the bigoted, big mouth, people in it.

    Did you have any of those Coca Cola “free hand out rulers” in school~?. Boy they can really sting if used on the inside of your hand.

    Now when my kids were about that age, we lived in Algeria and that place had one (negative object) called the “MARTINET”. It was often applied on the calves, on children who did not have to disrobe for punishment. Otherwise it was often applied on the bare buttocks.

    It is generally considered abusive to use it on children nowadays. Still, martinets are still sold in French stores; it is generally believed that a large share of those sold are meant for use on children, not pets, maybe at least to threaten them.

    I purchased one, thinking about my dad’s paddle, but would not have used it; even it had been necessary, it was more of a conversation piece hung on the wall out of memory..

    We have come a long way~! But I have seen other peoples kids who run wild in restaurants and public places, and a “Martinet” came to mind as possibly being a good idea~! (shame on me~!)

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Martinet

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    1. Very interesting! I had never heard of this type of martinet. It does sound very painful and crude/cruel. But times change and what was thought proper becomes improper and finally slides into abuse… There was a family at church that had a bunch of kids who would run around during the service. One Sunday 2 of them came crawling under the pews heading toward the front. They had the misfortune to crawl past my father. He snatched them by their shirts and hauled them up and plopped them down on each side of him. There they sat until the service was over. He never said a word to them but when they attempted to leave he grabbed them by the back of the neck and steered them back to a sitting position! They never tried that stunt again…

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  4. My mom wasn’t a wooden spoon weilder, but our friends’ mom was. She would call Cheryl and Janet home for dinner exactly once, and if they weren’t home in two minutes, she’d march across lawns, wooden spoon in hand, and give them both a whack with it. Your poem captures this scene well.

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  5. That discipline makes me cringe. I remember sis and I have to pick a switch off a roadside shrub. But dad had a razor strap offered for punishment, of which I never felt.

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    1. Kids will push you to the limits of your patience… But I was never tempted to use an implement! One of the only times Son#2 was ever spanked was when he darted out into traffic and was nearly hit by a car (after we had just said “Hold my hand there are lots of cars here.” We caught up to him on the other side and Sparky swatted his butt once and reiterated the danger. He wanted to hold hands crossing the street from that point (age 3) until he was 13… It made an impression!

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  6. I like how the poem, merely by mentioning compassion, actually scrutinises/criticises this kind of discipline. I also like the rhyme in “discontent” and “elbows bent”.

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    1. So sorry you were of the “belt” generation. I never understood why anyone would resort to a belt… At school the principal had a wooden paddle but I don’t recall anyone ever having that punishment meted out.

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    1. I suppose if they know you won’t follow through then the empty threat is amusing to them… I learned that the unhinged scream followed by maniacal laughter usually got their attention and a whispered word was all that I ever needed to do. The thought that there was a possibility I’d go crazy was a huge deterrent!

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    1. Hehe! Yeah, they are bonded as a family and none of them were scared for life… Though I guess the 2 youngest had it easy since the first 4 were old hands at keeping everyone out of trouble. They didn’t get the wooden spoon hardly at all…

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  7. My grandparents switched us..I hated it. Not because they hit so hard it was painful but b/c I had to pick the switch, and I’d upset them. 😉 My daddy spanked us with a belt. Again, not hard but enough to know we’d been punished. I didn’t like it, but I wasn’t ruined by it at all. JS

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    1. You were lucky. I had a friend who would come to school in black tights under her dress. That’s when I knew she’d been punished with the belt. She would have bruises all up and down her legs (and probably other places too). He father was brutal…

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        1. I never understood the rationale behind hurting your children. It seems to me to be a reflection of loss of self control and a callous attitude toward one’s offspring. Glad your parents had more sense!

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          1. Unfortunately, you’re right. Thankfully in my family, along with a survivor of abuse husband himself, we were determined to right past wrongs. I think we succeeded as our kids think we were great parents. That means a lot to me. ❤

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    1. A neighbor would spank her children (open hand on the posterior) and afterwards would hug them and tell them they were still loved. She made sure that the punishment was not about their relationship but about behavior that was unacceptable… a sort of “medicine” if you will…

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