Hey, I just got back from the grocery store.
Let me dig deep into the bag…ah, there they are. I got fifty percent off the family-size cans of worms, so I went ahead and grabbed three. Let’s see, here’s a tin of night crawlers in gun-control sauce, which I often serve when my dad comes over. Oh, and here’s the Safeway Select Obamacare Worm Medley, also a favorite with guests…like my dad.
And ah, yes, I managed to nab the last can of these babies. They seem to be popular lately. Let’s pry back the lid and take a whiff. Mmmm…Spicy Sriracha Spankworms.
By now, you’ve probably heard the story of Adrian Peterson, superstar running back for the Minnesota Vikings. Charged with felony child abuse for whipping his four-year-old son with a tree branch, Peterson has been suspended indefinitely by his team. Advertisers like Nike and Castrol have quit this guy faster than he got snatched up in this year's fantasy drafts.
As serious as these accusations are, Peterson’s timing couldn’t have been worse. His story broke less than a week after video surfaced of the other running back on the All-Bully Team, Ray Rice, knocking his pregnant fiancé senseless in an elevator. So yeah, you'll have to excuse us for being a little touchy about the delivery of domestic violence by world class athletes.
Peterson contends that he is not an abuser, that he’s simply disciplining his child the same way he was taught growing up in Palestine, Texas, but that just seems to be another example of the abused becoming the abuser. I’m pretty sure we’d all agree that breaking the skin on the head of a four-year-old falls outside the definition of discipline, so let’s dial it down a couple of notches and talk about spanking.
Do you spank your kids? Did you get spanked back in the day? Every couple of months or so, someone on Facebook will post a meme that says something like, “Share this if you played outside in the dirt all day, your friends were white, and you got spanked right there in your Sears Toughskins…” or something like that.
It’s an issue that’s so multi-layered—cultural, generational, even geographical. An ABC News poll found that among Southerners, 62 percent of parents spank their kids, compared to 41 percent for the rest of the United States.
As I noted in the aforementioned Facebook meme, most of my fellow Boomers got whacked as well. I usually never went more than a couple of days without a good swat. Being the little DB that I was, I exhibited at an early age an aptitude for finding psychological pressure points in my siblings and parents. I wouldn’t freaking let up on people.
Usually, after firing ample verbal salvos over the bow, my mom or dad would stomp into the kitchen and yank open that second drawer down—the one with the longer utensils. I’d watch in fear and contempt as they rifled through spatulas and wooden spoons, their wide eyes searching for the perfect instrument of revenge on their little wise ass.
Occasionally, my parents’ elevated adrenaline or my blocking paw might force an errant swing, which would then strike me below the buttocks and squarely on the upper leg. Remember those? They hurt so much that your mouth yawned a silent scream of anguish, saliva roping and snapping between your incisors. Only when your grey matter fully registered the pain signal, were you able to emit a scream like Roger Daltrey jamming his pinky toe into an amp.
Have I ever spanked my kids? Yep, a couple of times. But it didn’t feel right. It seemed like I was teaching my daughters that when anger gets out of control, violence is okay, so I stopped doing it. It’s a decision every parent is faced with, and let’s face it, there are times when it’s tempting as hell.
But when spanking becomes battery, is it any surprise to you that a couple of professional football players might be a little prone to this behavior? For god’s sake, anger is the straw that stirs the NFL’s Sunday morning Bloody Mary. The game is based on hammering your opponent into submission; these dudes play the game with bad thoughts.