To hear people talk now about corporal punishment (commonly known as “spanking” in the days of yore) as akin to “child abuse” makes my blood boil. I’m actually very grateful to my Mom for teaching me honesty at the point of a leather belt. (Well, it wasn’t exactly a “point”–she kind of folded it in half and slapped away on my “tighty whitey” clad ass!) To be very clear, my parents were quite reasonable in terms of discipline–Typical forms included a disapproving look, a few choice words, or a minor punishment like no TV for a few days or being banished to one’s room in the pre-digital era (gasp!) I vastly preferred the bedroom banishment because I was an avid reader with a small library in my bedroom. Some punishment indeed!
That said, the one thing my Mom wouldn’t tolerate was being lied to by her kids. When asked if I were guilty of some household rule infraction, I tried to BS my way out of it maybe a dozen times or so between ages 3-8. Hey, what the hell–It was worth a try, right? In fairness to my Mom, she typically gave me at least two opportunities to come clean before Dad’s belt came out. The first time the question was asked with a raised eyebrow or something similar; the second time my Mom added some attitude, and by the third time, she was pissed and the belt came down on me.
As I was getting my belting, my Mom’s anger at my dishonesty was expressed quite verbally as well, and the general theme was that a mother and her children HAD TO BE ABLE TO TRUST ONE ANOTHER 100%, and that there was absolutely no margin for error on that important point. As I said, it took me no more than a dozen times over a few years to learn this lesson, and I take it to heart to this day. It is essential to be honest with family, friends, lovers, business associates, ad infinitum so that they will trust you. (I might make an exception for the police–Hahaha!) And the trust I have earned from this early lesson in honesty has been invaluable in helping live an awesome life for which I’m eternally grateful. Thanks, Mom!!
But as I got older I drew definite distinctions between what information was someone else’s business (including my parents’) versus what was strictly my business. You can read my essay on “How I Became a Libertarian at Age 4” for more on this point. And as you will see in some of my other stories to come, I definitely did not consider the mythical age of 18 to be “adulthood.” My definition of adulthood began around age 14 when I declared my independence from a lot of the social restrictions the adults wanted placed on us while they indulged in similar behaviors with wild abandon–Hahahaha! Freedom and honesty were always equally important values to me, and both have served me well in life.