I received some unusual discipline tactics at the hands of my mother. In hindsight, I brought a lot of it on myself as I could be a brat and I had, what was considered at the time, a disrespectful mouth. A smart mouth is what it’s generally called nowadays. I was different with my father though. If I was really bad my mother always threatened that my father would be informed when he got home from work. I dreaded this as my father didn’t get mad at me. He would “tsk tsk” with disappointment and send me to my room. This hurt me more than anything because I hated disappointing my father. His disappointment was punishment enough and I truly believe he knew this. I was never sent to my room without dinner though, for punishing Italian children by depriving them of food was unheard of.
My mother used two methods of discipline that were common and acceptable at the time. The wooden spoon, and her shoes which, being the 70s, were hard clogs. My mother may have been great with a boomerang seeing as she was able to aim, throw and hit the target of me with that clog no matter where I was standing or hiding. Around corners and under furniture, that clog would hit me at full force. Sometimes I was lucky and managed to escape to the safety of the outdoors but that only prolonged my inevitable punishment. Don’t get me wrong, my mother wasn’t a sadist and I don’t hold any ill feelings for my upbringing. It was just the way it was.
When I got into my teens the physical punishment stopped and being sent to my room became my new standard form of punishment. I hated this more than physical punishment for it drove me crazy. I was sent to my room for hours on end with no stimulation allowed. I was not allowed to read or amuse myself at all. Just to sit on my bed in reflection for several hours till my mother deemed enough time had elapsed.
As I reached my late teens’ curfew became a big problem. I was nineteen when I got my license and a whole new freedom opened up to me. Public transport was dismal where I lived ending at 10pm on weeknights and midday on weekends. I had a midnight curfew but found that adhering to it once I got my license was near impossible. Night clubs didn’t really get going till midnight and that was the time I had to be home. So, I broke my curfew often.
I would sneak into the house not turning on any lights in the wee hours feeling around in the dark trying to be as quiet as possible. I’d get into bed fully clothed not even daring to turn on the lights once I’d reached my bedroom. This was in vain as my mother would always make sure to remind me in the morning of the exact time I’d gotten home. One night as I entered the house doing my usual blind trek I went head over heels finding my usual pathway obstructed. I limped blindly towards the light switch and when the room was illuminated I found that someone had moved a couch into the entranceway. The smirk on my mother’s face all the next day told me who the culprit had been.
I fought my parents constantly on my perceived injustice of a midnight curfew till I had a brilliant idea. I confronted my parents by posing a question to them one night. The question was packaged with a deal. I was going to ask them a question and if they didn’t have an answer then there was to be no curfew. If, on the other hand, they could answer the question I promised to keep to my curfew. My mother wasn’t interested but my father’s interest was piqued. My father and I often had debates and though we disagreed on things I felt he was proud of the way my mind worked. I think he felt I got my smarts from him. He agreed to the deal and I made him swear to honour the deal on both their behalves. My mother still refused but it was too late, my father had sealed the deal and I knew my father would honour it.
I asked them what happens after midnight that can’t happen before midnight. They started to reason that some people are dangerous and it wasn’t that they didn’t trust me but it was what was out there that they feared. That wasn’t an answer. That was an excuse, I told them. I wanted a proper answer. Name anything bad that can only happen after midnight. They looked at each other and were stumped. My mother insisted that the deal was ridiculous but I assured her that her trust in me was valid and that I’d never come home pregnant or on drugs.
I did partake in recreational drugs and when doing so my parents may not see me for days but were always informed where I was staying. I always made sure to contact my parents to tell them I’d decided to spend the night at friends. So, all in all, I did keep to my end of the bargain. (I did state at the beginning I was a brat). I never had children and I’m not sure I know how I would have reacted to the same proposition being made to me if I did.