From: Karyl Chastain, [103040,2452]

 

I remember times when my children were little, and I became very upset with

them. I spanked them sometimes, and I yelled at them. I imagine most all

parents do those things sometimes.

 

Now, however, I am older, and hopefully, I have grown a little wiser. I

look back at my life and theirs, and I am full of regrets for some of the

things I did, things I cannot undo, and I wonder why I didn't learn what I

needed to know until it was too late to help me be a better mother.

 

At the time I raised my children, I did the best I knew how, just as I am

sure you are doing. Parenting is absolutely the most difficult job there

is, and nobody ever told us how excruciating it could be. Perhaps if we had

known, the population of the world would be significantly smaller.

 

As a teacher, I have paddled many students, since paddling is legal in

Georgia. A few years ago, about the time I became involved with WAVE, an

incident happened that made me lay down that board forever.

 

A student had become unruly; this was a little girl named Ashley, age 10.

Ashley was one of those defiant kids that had 'an attitude.' One day, I

told her to do something in the classroom, and she glowered at me, picked

up her books and slammed them to the floor, and mumbled something

disrespectfully back ... loud enough for me to hear but not loud enough

for me to understand.

 

My first impulse, of course, was to paddle Ashley. She was not going to be

in my classroom and act like that and get away without punishment.

 

I told her to step outside into the hall, and I marched out with my paddle

in hand. I called another teacher to be a witness, and then, while I waited

for the other teacher to get there, I looked at Ashley, started giving her

my usual sermon on respect for authority, following rules, blah, blah,

blah.

 

But, as I talked to her, I just happened to glance into her eyes, and what

I saw shook me to the core. This little girl, who stood before me

defiantly, (me, a larger heavier teacher with all the power over her) ...

in her eyes, I saw great pain and fear. Fear of me!

 

I was stunned! Even now as I write it, it brings tears to my eyes. How

could I, a woman who professed to love children, bring such fear into the

eyes of a little child I claimed to be dedicated to? What did I do that was

so terrible, other than trying to teach her right?

 

But instantly, I knew. I was the giant, the monster, before her with a

board ready to hit her on the bottom, knowing she could not fight back,

knowing she would never dare to strike me the same way I would strike her,

and all because ... this child simply had not learned to control herself

the way I thought she should be controlling herself. Who had failed ...

Ashley ... or me?

 

I felt sick to my stomach .... I stood there nervously, wondering what to

do, since I had the paddle in my hand, getting ready to raise it to strike

her, butfor some unknown reason, I said,"Ashley, do you need a hug?"

 

For a moment, Ashley stood still ... as if she were in shock; then all of a

sudden, she reached her arms out and wrapped them around me, and I dropped

the paddle and held her as she sobbed and sobbed. From that day on, I never

paddled another child.

 

I went into the classroom the next day and told those children that no

matter what they did, I would never ever hit one of them again. I told them

that violence was not the answer, and that we would work together to find

solutions to their problems, but paddling them would not be part of the

'solution.'

 

The children actually smiled and cheered. Now I was not a person who

paddled left and right. Actually, I paddled very rarely, compared to some

teachers in the school. But these children, most of them, had been paddled

by teachers in the past, and by their parents, so when they learned they

were finally in a place where they were safe from hitting, it affected them

deeply.

 

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