Who's Beating Who?

There used to be an old leather black belt carefully positioned on top of our toilet tank as a 'gentle' reminder to walk the line and not aggravate our parents.

That leather belt rarely came off the toilet, but when it did, I remember diving under my bed and trying to hide from an angry father who was looking for some lily white arses to paddle.

My mother used to keep a stock of wooden spoons in a side drawer to whack our hands with whenever we misbehaved. They kept breaking on our skinny little bones so she liked to maintain an ample supply, just in case.

Boo's dad used to make him walk to the bush and pick out a willow switch, and carve it while his father watched, all the while knowing his dad was going to use that willow switch on his poor bottom for what ever crime he had committed.

Boo said his father very rarely actually used the switch because the torture of just finding and stripping the branch more than exceeded the crime. He'd be a blubbering mess as his father watched him work, just living in fear of the moment he had to bend over and receive his lashes.

Oh, those were the good ole days. The days when kids had manners and parents were more interested in parenting their children than being friends with them.

Not that I'm advocating beating your children, but sometimes I wish I had a willow tree handy or a long black belt sitting on the toilet tank to strike fear into the hearts of my children.

Chasing them around with a wooden spoon while yelling hollow threats about how they are going to be sorry when I finally catch them hasn't quite worked. They're on to me. They know I won't actually use the spoon on their rump, I'll just wave it around like a wild woman while they roll their eyes and pretend to listen.

It's not always the most effective discipline technique. Sigh.

It's way more effective to duct tape them to the walls and whip them with wet noodles. Heh.

Even if I wanted to lay the smack down on my children for their misdeeds, they've grown up. They're almost as big as me. I'm pretty sure my daughter would wrestle me to the ground and lay a can of whoop ass on my aging body if I even tried.

My son would just sit on me and fart.

So in an effort to maintain order and a false sense of dominance, I've had to find more creative ways to lay down the law lately.

Mostly, I just call their father and rat them out and watch the sniveling begin. However, that isn't always an option. Like the other day when my son knocked a gaping hole in my pantry door because he was goofing around with his sister.

His father wasn't answering his phone, leaving me to deal with it. I needed a punishment to fit the crime. While the willow switch beckoned, I settled on saddling him with dish duty for a week and he'll pay for the replacement door out of his own pocket.

He also had to write me a two hundred word essay on why he needs to respect the home he lives in or he will find himself living outside in a cardboard box and acting as bear bait.

It would have been easier to swat him and yell but heck, it wouldn't have been near as amusing as when he saw the dollars fly out of his piggy bank. Not to mention, I'm planning on collecting all of his essays into a book and presenting it to him when he finally has a family of his own.

Payback's a bitch, my son.

So is yer momma.

For the most part, Fric and Frac are respectful, pleasant, well-behaved children who are a joy to have around. (And not just when I'm drinking my mommy juice. Wink, wink.)

But there are moments when the two of them cannot get along and it takes all of my will power not to put them up for sale on e-bay.

I don't know what I was thinking have children only 13 months apart. Oh wait, I wasn't thinking. I was horny. Duh.

Car rides are generally the worst. Back when their brother was alive, Bug would separate the two of them which was particularly useful in preventing them from attempting to murder one another.

Fric likes to sing. Frac likes silence. Frac likes to poke and bug, Fric likes her personal space unhindered by dirty little brother paws.

Bug's no longer here to keep the peace. Dammit. Meaning they have free access to annoy each other and drive me bat shit crazy while I'm trying to drive them safely to our destination.

Most of the time I just yell at them, threaten to call their dad and then turn up the stereo to drown them out. The other night though, they laid one too many straws on this momma camel's back. I broke.

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I yanked hard on the steering wheel and slammed on the brakes as the car wildly veered to the side of the road and gravel sprayed everywhere.

"That's it! I have had enough of the two of you bickering and pestering each other. I have asked you several times to either behave or just shut up! You don't want to listen to me, well I don't want to listen to you!" I growled.

Both Fric and Frac sat there in stunned silence and suffering from a slight case of whiplash from the car stopping so suddenly.

"Get out of my car."

They just sat there, in stunned disbelief.

"Now. GET. OUT. BEFORE. I. LOSE. IT. ON. YOU." I was half hissing, half growling.

"But MOOOOM. We're in the middle of nowhere," Frac wailed.

"You should have thought of that before you ignored me umpteen times. GET OUT."

They looked at me and tried to gauge just how high the crazy rated in my eyes. I stared back at them just daring them not to listen.

Apparently the crazy was very obvious in my eyes because they slowly vacated the car and stood by the side of the road in the drizzling rain looking like they were about to cry.

I rolled down my window and growled, "Now, think about this moment the next time you decide to ignore what I ask and pester one another." With that, I stomped on the gas and sped away.

Not very far. Only about 500 meters or so, but far enough to freak them out. When the kids saw my brake lights flash on , they sprinted to the car. Only to find the doors locked.

Again, I rolled down the window and growled. "I mean, just how many times do I need to ask the two of you to get along before you think I'm serious?"

"Mom! We're soooorreeee! We're getting soaked out here. We'll be good. Let us in!" they begged.

I looked at them and felt a maternal tug at my heart strings. It was swiftly smothered by the memory of annoyance suffered just moments earlier.

"Too bad. Start walking. When I think you have learned your lesson, you can get back in."

They started to argue, but the look on my face shut them up quick enough. Slowly, they started to trudge ahead, towards home.

I drove beside them, all the while lecturing them about why there are rules in the car and how safety comes first, not the need to pester one another, as they slowly marched alongside the car. In the rain.

They looked like a pair of drowned, pathetic rats.

Just when I was about to stop and let them back in, Frac looked at me and said "When I grow up, I'm never going to be as mean as you to my kids."

Wrong thing to say, kiddo. I laughed and then barked at them to speed it up. "Faster! Faster!" I yelled as I picked up more speed.

I had those two running full speed until they looked like they were going to fall over dead with exhaustion. They were soaked to the bones and covered with mud.

Finally, mercy prevailed and I pulled over and let them in. They wisely got in without saying a word. They strapped themselves in and all you could hear was the heavy breathing from the back seat.

I looked back at them through the rear view mirror and asked if they had had enough.

"Yes," Fric nodded and then she proceeded to apologize to her brother and me. Frac followed suit immediately.

"I wasn't trying to be mean, you guys. It's just you were distracting me from safely driving with your arguing and that isn't cool. I figured if you had this much energy in the back of the car, you just needed a friendly way to burn it off. Now everyone feels better, right?"

They were too busy shivering to answer, but they nodded so I turned up the heat.

The next few miles passed in blissful silence until we were home. As Fric got out of the car, I heard her whisper to her brother, "She should have made us run farther. I was just getting started!"

Frac nodded and said, "I know! Me too! I could totally run faster than her car!"

They giggled and I pretended not to hear them. Until one of them unwisely said, "It's a good thing Mom didn't have to do that when she was growing up. She'd have died from the exercise."

That's when I got out their father's duct tape and started boiling the noodles to beat them with.

It's them or me, two against one. I'm thinking I may need to start looking for a willow tree.