The Belt

Proverbs 22:15; 23:13-14

We are all familiar with certain sights, sounds, and smells from our childhood that instantly bring back a flood of memories.  Seeing two little guys playing catch with a ball and glove, hearing the laughter on a playground, bread baking in an oven – all these miraculously transport us to another time and place, and we grow nostalgic.  There is one sound that permeated my childhood, and it is distinct from every other.  That sound is the soft pop-pop-pop of a man’s belt coming through the loops, as it is pulled off the pants.  That sound can still bring tears to my eyes.

belt

My daddy had a unique belt, and I’ve only seen a few like it. There was the basic leather strap, decorated with a western design. The tongue of the belt however, had a smaller strip of leather attached on front at the end.  The main strip slipped behind the buckle, and the smaller strip went into the buckle. I never knew enough beltography to understand the purpose of the two tongued belt. I completely understood, however, the meaning of the sound as those two strips of leather slapped against each other, coming through the belt loops of daddy’s pants.

My father was an old-fashioned disciplinarian.  He was serious about corporal punishment. The Bible said to use a rod on the back, but I think he was no legalist about that. A rod on the back was only symbolic for a belt on the backside.  If a man spanked his son, it proved he loved him. If a man refused to spank his son, it proved he did not love him.  Furthermore, this practice could drive foolishness from the child’s heart and save his soul from hell, all straight from scripture.

Typically, my brother and I would be involved in some sort of foolishness when we heard that sound.  I heard it while tying a firecracker to the cat’s tail. I heard that sound after painting the schoolhouse. I heard it shortly after I uttered my first curse word, and after my second.  We heard it regularly when we broke a piece of furniture in one of our frequent scuffles.  I heard that sound after I brought home a report card with three “Cs” and an “I” in behavior (Improvement needed). Improvement was promptly forthcoming.  If I got a spanking at school, I got another at home.

I must admit, there was a certain comfort in the predictability of the belt. We knew what was coming, we knew how it would go down, and we knew there would be an instructional session followed by a big hug.  I never fully believed the part about, “This is going to hurt me more than it hurts you.” Especially when my offense was so silly, my dad couldn’t keep from snickering while he was instilling improved wisdom. I knew, beyond all doubt, that my dad loved me and cared about how I behaved.

I also much preferred the predictability of my dad’s spankings to my mom’s.  Mom rarely spanked. She usually warned, “Just wait until your father gets home.” On those rare occasions when she did spank, it meant she was so absolutely furious, she refused to wait for him.  Dad was calm when he spanked. Mom’s voice raised a couple of octaves, while she was spanking, shrieking words I could only make out a few of, ; “Shriek, shriek, never treat me like, shriek, shriek, show some respect, shriek shriek. Do you understand me?!” No mom, I really didn’t.  The other thing was, my mom had no belt. She spanked with whatever was within her grasp at the moment. She spanked me with flyswatters, extension cords, and a couple of times on Sunday, her shoe. Do you know what preachers’ wives wear on their feet on Sunday? Yes, heels. Also, if one child was getting a spanking from mom, whoever was nearby got it too, when she was done.  “And YOU!  Shriek, shriek, just like your brother! Shriek, shriek!”

Our current culture frowns on the belt and spanking. I tend to be old-fashioned, like my dad.  God made it really plain where a child’s correction spot is. It sticks out further than anything else, and it’s padded. How plain can it be.  With all due respect to child psychology experts, you cannot reason with a three-year-old.  You will lose the argument. A “time-out” to a toddler is simply time for more strategic planning.  Parents, remember this. The only thing that will stop a child’s misbehavior is when it is more uncomfortable to continue than it is to stop.

 

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Published in: on January 9, 2018 at 8:50 pm  Leave a Comment  

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