This morning, I was basking in the oasis of my thoughts, sipping my rather astringent coffee — and suddenly, the thought of discipline popped into my head. Specifically, the times that I was disciplined. Apparently I’m getting old because I think I appreciate the punishment and what it shaped me into? Gosh, you ever have one of those ‘my parents were right; this day I understand’ moments? Back then, I remember being furious after a good ol’ fashion throw down with the parents and the rod of correction — as we will poetically know it here. I probably thought I’d show them by running away, or even never speaking to them again; oh I knew, I’d skip dinner to show them that I was really upset; goodness, I probably divorced them as parents, mentally, thousands of times, and yet — looking back, there were more than a few instances where I needed a firm hand to smack me in the right direction.
So I figured I would share a time from my childhood that prompted certain measures be taken.
The first — God, I was a brat — anyway, the first memory that comes to mind places me back in daycare, KinderCare was the name, if I remember correctly. The child me hated taking naps, but what I hated more was waking up from them. I figured if you were going to force me to sleep, then let me sleep once I’ve submitted to your foul devices, called “nap time.” So on this specific afternoon, this young student teacher comes over to wake me from the boon of sleep.
“It’s time to wake up,” she must have said.
She probably even spoke ever more loudly, in attempts to stir me from my dreams. What she couldn’t have known was that I was, in fact, awake. I had heard her perfectly when she beckoned me from the cot the first time. But I was determined to lie there, still as death, until she — hopefully — gave up, and let me go back to sleep. But there was persistence in this one. In hindsight, of course she wasn’t going to let me keep sleeping. Parents would be furious if they got off work, picked up their kids, and discovered that they had been sleeping all day equipping them with enough energy to terrorize the household until dawn. But I didn’t know that then, and I was determined to get this woman off my back, by the simple ruse of pretending to still be asleep.
“Sweetie, it’s time to get up now,” she said endearingly, kneeling down to shake me ever-so-gently in hopes of bringing me back to the bitter sobriety of waking life.
I’ll show her, I thought.
Now, I want to stop the story here, for a moment, to say that in no way have I grown up to become a violent individual. As a matter of fact, I’m a firm believer in using words to de-escelate a situation if at all possible. My youth was filled with irrational thought process, a rudiment understanding of cause and effect, and most importantly, a disregard for the consequences of my actions. That said, what happened next in NO WAY reflects who I have become today.
Honest to God, I sprung from the cot, wrapped my hands around her face, and slammed my forehead into her semblance — effectively rendering her dead to the world for a few moments in time. Her nose was bloodied; the poor girl had braces, which had cut the inside of her lip severely, requiring her to leave the daycare and go get stitches; and for like a solid ten seconds, she had no idea what had hit her. At such a young age, I had executed — what turned out to be — an indefectible head-butt sending my superior into an unheralded swoon.
Oblivious to what that actually meant for me, I rose like a champion who stood over his vanquished like the gladiators of old. As the other adults ran over to help, I stood there — amongst my peers, who looked at me with awe — and I felt in control of my world, I felt big; I felt like God.
Reality didn’t set in until my dad walked into the daycare about an hour later to pick me up. In that moment, the illusions were shattered. I realized what I had done. The awe in the other kids eyes was not out of reverence for my actions, but in contemplation of the unfathomable consequences that must await.
This kid has fucked up, they probably thought … Except in rudiment child lingo, and — you know — without using the ‘F’ word.
When we got home, it. was. on.
If I ever see that lady again, as an adult, I don’t think I’ll ever be able to render an apology worthy of the head-butt that I gave to her that day. But I learned my lesson. To be honest, I haven’t head-butted a single person since. I guess you can say a lot has changed since childhood, even spankings. They mean something completely different when you’re all grown up.