I never saw her cook with it.
Instead, the worn, wooden spoon sat on top of our refrigerator. The sound of my mother reaching up and groping for it could be heard on the opposite side of the house and freeze a child in her tracks.
It meant that you were about to endure the longest three minutes of your life.
Before time-outs and discipline strategies, the wooden spoon, sure and swift, was my mother’s most powerful weapon. It succeeded where a stern word or severe look failed.
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Then research and laws started piling up against corporal punishment and the wooden spoon became just another kitchen utensil. The only thing I’ve ever whipped up with mine is a mean marinara sauce. When my sister-in-law jokingly threatened to use it on her misbehaving son this summer, my 5-year-old nephew just looked at her in confusion. “Why do you need a spoon???”
For all the tears and pleadings it stirred up, I still find myself waxing nostalgic about the spoon era. My mother and her moms-in-arms were pretty creative when it came to meting out punishment with household handy objects. Fly swatters, hair brushes, paddle ball paddles, brooms, rolling pins., tree branches.
I once watched in wonder while my best friend’s mother removed her white nurse’s shoe and whipped it across the room with Ninja-like accuracy at my girlfriend’s head.
They were Irish, but my Latin friends have similar tales about their mamás and the art of the “chancla slap.” Curveballs, fastballs, sliders? I’d pit a pissed off Latin mom with her house slipper against pre-surgery Cuban pitching phenom Jose Fernandez any day.
Today’s kids have it easy. Think getting grounded or having your cell phone taken away hurts? Try a few lashes with a six-inch piece of orange plastic Hot Wheels track.
Kids, you don’t know real fear until you’ve heard the Zorro-slash sound of your father pulling his belt from his pants.
I’m not advocating a return to the “Stand there and wait while I decide what to hit you with” age, but I do think it’s time to remind our children how good they have it.
What’s the craziest thing your parents whooped you with?