My $0.02 cents worth- sparing the rod

Dear Ian,

There are 2 ways to learn new things.

1- You’ve simply exhausted all solutions, and when that happened, you’ll be compelled to learn a new solution, or by some evolutionary insight, new lessons will unfold.

2- You refuse to use your existing methods and decides to seek out alternative, hopefully superior methods. No matter how difficult it is to look for new ways, and how easy it would be to revert to the old ways, you continue to look away and for new lessons.

The latter happened to me.

We all heard about “spare the rod and spoilt the child.”

I was quite generous with the rod, I’m sure you and Wayne would agree. Well, it was quite simply monkey see, monkey do. My dad and mum used the rod too, the frequency can be opened to dispute. Well, fact of the matter was, I was brought up this way, so I will bring up the both of you this way. Well, your mum’s parents also did ‘rod’ her, when the need arises.

It was until the Christmas season, where you made me so angry with your idiocy that I hit you, and you ended up with a bruised and bleeding lip. ( It hurts me to write this down, but it happened, and it is not something I’m terribly proud of, well; that is for another entry.)

Your aloofness can really make me mad but somehow it dawned to me that the rod, will not work anymore, and if I were to continue this, I will be bordering becoming an abusive father. So I told myself and you, that moving on forward, I will no longer cane you, or beat you for your wrongdoings, instead, we will talk, talk and talk some more.

I realised that as a kid, when you get hurt, you hurt back. You find an external source to hurt back, so as to justify your hurt. And now that I abstained from the rod, I realised that when I get hurt, I hurt you by caning you. This is one of the many reasons, but sometimes, you simply needs to be disciplined, with the rod, period.

It is a difficult approach for me, to abstain, when it would me much easier for me to cowed you into submission with the cane. Intimidation, is still my most used weapon, albeit not the most powerful, nor the most useful. It is difficult for me to reason with you, to be open to the potential that you, at 8 years of age; will be open to reason and reflection. It is an uncertain approach, fraught with a sense of stress and apprehension for me, as your dad. I could smacked you, and lesson learned, end of the story.

This evening, we went through a difficult session again, we are playing and I told you not to sit on the plastic IKEA table and for the fourth time, you disobeyed me and I disqualify you from play and barred you from the game we were playing (Ninja Warrior, Singapore edition!) Your little brother, continued playing, happily and of course, like what brothers do, taunt you.

You sulked and acted like a sore loser, you argues and hid your brother’s favourite ‘Mummy Tiger’ in an attempt to spite him, I saw that and reprimanded you further. You refused to yield and I can tell that the lesson hadn’t sank in. It didn’t because I didn’t hear the magic word ‘Sorry.’ So I told you to stand and watch, while your little brother enjoyed going through the obstacles I made for him, and for you.

You knew why I told you not to sit, risk breaking the fragile table. you knew the consequences as I told you I will disqualify you from play if you sit on it again. You did it, and the consequences was obvious, you got barred, you sulked. And I could have caned you.

Instead I reasoned and reasoned, talked and talked, till I was a little hoarse. I know that somehow you are not getting it, so I told you, that you can stand there as a punishment until you get it. It was frustrating for me, but I refuse to apply violence.

I turned my back on you to help your brother keep his toys and you walked up to me ( actually risk getting scold by me, for leaving your spot!) and really said sorry to me. It was truly, not the word, but the way you said it, and told me you got it. You knew you were wrong and you can see it. You saw the whole thing and explained it to me in your words, the way I told you.

Words cannot describe the vindication I got from holding back, turning away from using violence, physical pain to teach my children the lessons they need to learn growing up. I didn’t scream at you, but yes I did raise my voice, but I didn’t hit you. I don’t think I could anymore, and now you, my son, has proved to me that you don’t need to be hit, to learn your lessons anymore.

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