Gary Williams
Engl. 111-36
Unit Paper: Childhood and Family

Some Thoughts on Discipline

When I was much younger, I don't remember being beaten so badly. It seemed to get worse during the grade-school years. I ponder at what point it moves from discipline to abuse. Mom and dad divorced when I was young, about two years. It was then that somebody else, Dale, was introduced to me as my "new dad." From that point until my late high-school years, my real dad was just a faint memory to me. Being as young as I was, I guess I didn't know the difference. Maybe I did sense something wasn't the same.

The years before starting school as a child seem like some of the best times I can remember. My younger brother was born when I was two and a half. Life seemed just grand at that time. It was so much fun being a small child. Sometimes when I think back, I really miss those days. I remember getting spankings then for things such as disobeying, but they came very seldom and never hurt very long. They got worse and more frequent after I started going to school.

I remember times a few years into grade school that it seemed like every day we were getting spankings. By this time I had two younger brothers and a sister. Sometimes in the morning, my two brothers, my sister, and I would get up way before mom and "dad." Being restless we would make tremendous noise. We played our rowdy games, screamed and yelled and fought, just the normal things that kids do. "Be quiet in there!" we would hear from the other room. Of course, that wouldn't hush our restlessness, so we continued making even more racket. Finally, from out of the back room, my step-dad would come out, carrying a belt in his hand and meaning business. He would have the look in his eyes that he was going to hurt somebody badly. I would usually get it first. For one, I was the oldest. Also, I was the other man's child. It seemed this combination always got me the "worst end of the stick."

My right arm, secured in his right hand, the belt in his left... "WHHAACK!!" "OUWWW!" My feet would come off the ground and land about a foot away from where they started. "WHHAACK!" "WHHAACK!" "WHHAACK!" Each time my feet landing about a foot from where they started, around and around in a circle. "WHHAACK!" "WHHAACK!" "WHHAACK!" "Oh my God! When is this going to end?" would be the thoughts going through my head. "WHHAACK!" "WHHAACK!" "WHHAACK!" The welts getting bigger and more pronounced, I would keep going around in that dreadful circle. "WHHAACK!" "WHHAACK!" "WHHAACK!"

After what seemed like forever, he would finally let me go, and I could hardly stand. No matter what position I would try, it hurt like a thousand razor blades had just been lashed on my flesh. In turn, my brother, my sister, and my youngest brother each would receive the same. "WHHAACK!" "WHHAACK!" "WHHAACK!" What a wonderful way to start up the day. Angry, frustrated, and in extreme pain, the whole day would be shot. After something like this, we didn't have too much to be happy about. The stinging could often be felt for days. So many times because of this, I would not want to suit out in junior high P.E. I felt ashamed having blistered welts all up and down my backside.

The older I got, the angrier I got. I was exasperated. Often times, severe punishment was released for what seemed to be the smallest and most trivial of infractions. Anything that was easily available would be used: belts, hairbrushes, wooden spoons, flyswatters, shoes, twigs, and just the bare hand. My thoughts changed from "Oh my God! When is this going to end?" to thoughts of wanting to lash back in retaliation. I wanted to kill the man. I often wanted to kill myself, just to be able to escape from the only hell I knew, reality. During countless hours of humiliating pain, I would think about the best, easiest, and most painless way to kill myself. Fortunately, my conscience wouldn't let me take the cowardly way out. It kept reminding me that better days would be ahead. I had to be brave and strong.

In junior high I remember one night having a dream. This was one of those dreams that I would wake up almost terrified, wondering "Is that real?" I was floating down dark and desolate streets. I say floating, because all I am doing is observing; I have no body. Out of somewhere I kept hearing the sounds of a woman weeping. As I was floating down these streets, I come upon my family gathered in a circle. My mom was there, along with my two brothers and my sister. In the middle of the circle was my step-dad Dale. I saw he was dead. My family was sad and crying. Not knowing how he died, I woke up. This was one of those dreams that seemed so real, I had to find out if he was alive. During this time my step-dad was with another woman without the benefit of having divorced my mom first. Of course, he was still alive, still with the other woman of the time. He made many broken promises, and this was just one of them.

Seven years from the time I had the dream, I was out on my own. I must have been about twenty at this time. After having lived with my real dad a little while, I was in my own apartment away from the home I knew as a child. Mom had been divorced from Dale for a few years by this time. "Ring-Ring!" An unexpected telephone call. It was my mom. She was crying. "Dale killed himself" she cried in my ear. He had stuffed a potato in the tail-pipe of a car. While it was running, he sat inside the car within an enclosed garage. He was blue when his brother had found him. He had a note with him. It said something about how he had lost everything he ever really loved, his family, and it wasn't worth going on anymore.

Several years have passed since then. In a way, I wish he were still here. It still pains me to think about how my brothers' and sister's dad has left them. Sometimes it makes me feel bad knowing I can call up my dad anytime I want, and even go see him, while my siblings don't have that same option. I now understand the significance of the intense dream I had years earlier. The consequences of all his wrong-doings had caught up with him and eventually took his life. One thing is for certain; Dale can't hurt anyone or make broken promises anymore.

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