I’ll Bust Your Head Till the White Meat Shows

So I’m walking down Court Street in Brooklyn during evening rush when I spot a seven-year-old white girl lying, flat on her back, on the sidewalk. Within seconds three older black women had gathered around her.

“Is she okay?”
“Where’s her parents?
“Should we call someone?”
“You okay, baby?”

The girl wasn’t hurt. She was just staring up at the sky. I started to take out my phone, but her father–your typical white Brooklyn business dude–was suddenly there.

“She’s mine,” he said, slightly exasperated.

All eyes turned to him as if to say, “Really?”

He sighed. Maybe she was having a fit. Maybe he’d threatened to leave her there to prove a point. But what he said next almost made me laugh.

“Honey, you want to explain to these ladies why you’re lying on the sidewalk?” He said it in that tone that a certain class of Brooklyn parents use. You know the one–the one that assumes children are rational human beings (stretching out on a dirty Brooklyn sidewalk a clear indicator of rational thought).

The black women looked at him as if to say, “You have clearly lost your mind and lost control of the situation.”

But we all shrugged and walked away. We were probably all thinking along the same lines. “What’s the world coming to?” I may be white, but I’m a white boy from the South and have had my share of ass-whuppin’s, including many done with a crepe myrtle switch on bare legs. One of the things I feared most was the humiliation (and pain) of a public whipping. It would never have even crossed my mind to pull that sidewalk stunt.

If I had tried it, she’d have counted to three. If she arrived at three and I was still down there? She would have snatched me up by the hair and dragged me home while saying, “You just wait till I get you home. You just wait.” Over and over.

And then, when we got home, the real fun would have begun.

Shit. Kids these days.

Wait. Kids? No. Let me rephrase that. Parents these days.

7 thoughts on “I’ll Bust Your Head Till the White Meat Shows

    I tell my daughters about how I used to have to pick my own switch from the tree and they look at me like I have 3 heads. “Maw maw (my mother) did that? No way.” My daughters don’t say sir or ma’am and don’t use Mr. and Mrs. BUT before you think I’m an idiot parent – 99% other kids don’t use these terms either! Back when we were kids, we had a special code of etiquette that all children had to adhere to. Ahhh – memories.

  2. One of my most vivid “punishment” memories is when my family and the family of my parents’ friends went camping together. It was just a couple of campers set up in a field some distance away from the house, and to be honest–I don’t even remember what we did, but two of the boys from the other family and I did something, and our fathers caught us at the house. The actual punishment was rather mysterious, but we were told “you all better be back at the campsite before we are…or you’ll wish you had been.” Did I mention that they were driving back? I’m not much of a runner, but that is without a doubt, the hardest, fastest I’ve ever run in my life…no kidding. The three of us did make it–we got to run as the crow flies, but we also got punished…if you consider throwing your guts up punishment.

  3. Jim,
    I wasn’t of the “pick your own switch generation.” By that point mawmaw had a favorite switch — one which had an actual name. It was called Henry. Henry bit. Hard.
    My dad told me, though, that not only did she make him and his brother pick their own switch, a few times she directed them beat each other with it, adding the warning. “If yall don’t do it hard enough, then I’m going to do it. And neither one of yall want that.”
    Of course, I couldn’t hit my kid if you paid me. It’s easier said than done.

  4. Jim, BUT before you think I’m an idiot parent – 99% other kids don’t use these terms either!, here lies the problem. You can be the other 1% and make a change. And by the way Ken, I remember what your mom used on you and your little brother. That’s why you guys turned out to be such intelligent, well mannered gentlemen.

  5. You need someone to smack your boy around, I’ll be back in the states soon. I remember what my mom used on my also. Jim, shame on you. Come to my house and see if my kids don’t say sir and ma’am. Your job is to be their parent not their friend. But, I remember punching a couple of my friends square in the face.

  6. As the mom who insists my kid address adults as Mr. and Mrs. (I grew up with ma’am and sir, not requiring it but I encourage it) the thing that gets me is the adults who correct me. “No, it’s okay, call me Ken.” And I say really sweetly, “I’ll call you Ken, he’ll call you Mr. Wheaton.” It gets them every time. My kid, my rules.

  7. My mom’s favorite and mine now that I have my only little darling’s is the fly swatter – works great, doesnt leave marks and they do not like it. Gives just enough sting to get the desired behavior.
    Children these days are just out of control. And I am with you folks who have your children address adults with Mr & Mrs and say ma’am and sir. All of mine do – even though they have to be reminded from time to time and they say please and thank you as well.
    Children need to learn how to respect others from young in order to respect themselves and others as they get older – and small gestures like ma’am & sir, please & thank you, start to instill this I believe.

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