I Hated the Lady Catherine

Spare the rod and spoil the child.

I will attribute the following parenting advice to James Dobson, though it may have been another psychologist: when disciplining your child, use an inanimate object. Your hands should only being used in a gentle, loving touch.

Not my mother’s, but a picture of one like it. Really, I don’t know what happened to it.

My mother’s instrument of correction was a white, melamine hair brush, made by the Fuller Brush Company- it had a matching comb. They gave it the name Lady Catherine. Long gone these many years, I can still see it resting on the green tiled, bathroom counter. I hated that hairbrush.

Now, Mama used the Lady Catherine to brush our hair, of course. My hair was really thick, when I was a girl; it would tangle easily, but the Lady Catherine was employed to straighten things out. And I’d better not squirm, because I’d get a tap on my butt and an admonishment that it hurts to be beautiful. I would tell her that I didn’t want to be beautiful, if it meant pain… Any way, my mother would brush out my light brown hair that hung half way down my back, take the huge white comb, part my hair from brow to nape and make two 70’s pony tails. She then when would declare me beautimous and send me down the driveway to wait for the school bus.

Mama also used the molded, white, melamine brush with a chip on one corner of the handle to straighten out poor attitudes. Childhood shopping trips were prepped by a simple, little swat on the backside, along with a promise that if we misbehaved in town that a true spanking would be given, when we got home. We marched like little clockwork soldiers, while in public.

My cousin Gretchen was spending a weekend with us and Mama was going to take us shopping or to the movies, somewhere. I don’t remember. What I do remember is Gretchen standing in the bathroom door laughing at my brother and I as we got a warning swat from Lady Catherine. Mama looked at her niece and gestured for her to present herself. Gretchen’s eyes got wide with the realization that she would not be excluded from the swat-before-leaving-the-house.

“Aunt Madoline! You’re not going to whip me. I haven’t done anything.”

“I know you haven’t done anything, Gretchen. I’m not whipping you, this is just a little reminder to behave in town.”

Gretchen got the swat and Mama had three well-behaved children in town. But whenever asked if she wanted to come visit, Gretchen would always wanted to know if we would be going anywhere….

The white melamine hairbrush disappeared. Honestly, I don’t know what happened to it. Maybe one of the floods swept it away. Maybe it started losing bristles. All I know is that it vanished

What did last was the discipline of my mother. Was her method extreme? I don’t think so. It didn’t hurt us. I hated it as a kid. But I see now that Mama did it because she loved us enough to correct us. Though some of you reading this are probably appalled, but as I shop as an adult, I see many young children who could benefit from my mother’s method.

Did I employ the swat-before-leaving-the-house method? Occasionally. Also the reward and praise for good behavior. Both are good for rearing well behaved, well adjusted citizens.

Blessings.

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