Mr. Slap

I was deleting old text messages today and I came across one from a number I didn’t recognize. It was my daughters old cell phone so I started reading the texts. There was a hilarious string of commentary when she was stuck one evening with some relatives that were less than pleasant.

She reported at one point that her Uncle was threatening his children by saying “Don’t make Mr. Slap come out!”

I immediately pictured a character from those bizarre Little Miss books from the 1970’s – Little Miss Sunshine, Mr Tickle and now introducing Mr. Slap! A cautionary tale for parents to read to their children before they Get On Their Very Last Nerve.

All joking aside, talking about hitting children is always controversial. The line between what some folks call discipline and others call abuse can very fluid depending on your perspective.

I have never spanked my child, and, although my husband and I blow off steam to each other by saying ‘Let the beatings commence!’, I can’t imagine what would actually push me to hurt her.

I grew up watching people hit their children and each other out of anger, frustration, defeat and/or a misguided idea that they were “beating some sense into them”. Nothing about it ever looked effective.

I remember a woman my mother played cards with that lived on our street who never went anywhere without her two boys and a six-pack. Tall, beautiful, with Crystal Gayle hair and an easy laugh, she was a benign drunk rather than violent. Her method of disciplining her older boy Mikey, who was “always bad”, was to tell him to hit himself. And he would. He would slap his own arm and carry on with whatever he was doing.

I don’t know if this relative of ours ever brings out Mr. Slap or not, as we are not very close. But since I have witnessed this couple threatening consequences that they didn’t deliver, it is likely that Mr. Slap is also an empty threat.

Makes you wonder which is worse violent language or the violence itself. One problem I see is that most folks don’t call violent language abuse. A parent (or other adult) can beat on someones self-worth everyday and never leave a visible bruise. Little Mr. Vicious Insult maybe.

Something to think about.