Spare the rod, spoil the child?

Solomon said, ‘Those who don’t correct their children hate them. But those who love them are careful to train them.’ (Prov 13:24). Common is the phrase ‘spare the rod spoil the child’ which is a paraphrase of the above verse in the King James Version. Now, was it my mother only who quoted King James frequently especially those times when she sent me to get the cane or belt that would help her not to spoil her dear child, me? Did your mother (or guardian) quote her (his) King James too?

Anyway, this particular post is a journey down memory lane. If you are a frequent visitor here u would know that my mum went to be with the Lord 13 years ago. However, I have loads and loads of memories about her and among them are her unusual and unconvensional parenting skills. She was very random in how she dealt with issues – how she handled me and my sister. I have realized this particular signature in how God disciplines me. Feel free to laugh with (or at) me as I take a stroll down this lane…

Mum was a lady very sensitive to people’s personalities, thus she sometimes handled me differently from my sister. Now, she had established that the Bible was what created the laws of the WWW (triple W if you like) household. A little background info; all our maiden names begin with the letter W.

She was Wanjiru, I am Wangui and my sister is Wacera hence WWW. She very proudly would declare like Joshua ‘as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord’. (Joshua 24:15). She would justify her actions through the Bible and if no exact situation could be found in the Bible Ephesians 6:1-2 the children obey your parents’ verse which I had already memorized would redeem her. This meant, her word, became the other law in the house…

There is this day she went to visit my grandma and I was supposed to undo my hair by the time she came back. Being the hyperactive kid I was, I spent the entire day playing. Then I remembered! I tried to undo thin cornrows. Did I wish my hair was short or what! She came back, and I tried to keep her busy so she wouldn’t notice the hair. I failed. Miserably.

She held my hand and led me towards the bedroom, locked it (still holding my hand), took out a thin white belt, stood in front of the door so I wouldn’t make a run for it and beat the devil out of me. She used 4 belts on me coz they kept breaking into halves then she would mutter something like ‘let me take another belt because I would not like to injure this daughter of mine that I love so much’, ‘I do not want to hit your head. I love you’ and ‘they don’t make good belts nowadays’. My screams got the neighbours to intervene but my legs were filled with little wounds by then. That was the most major ‘spare the rod spoil the child’ incident in my life.

I got over it eventually quite fast actually coz it was a bit hard to sulk around my mum. She was lively and sweet spirited which kept our house full of chatter or music and dance. Days later in the midst of the chatter, she asks me to read for her 1John3:8 in paraphrase it says that, the devil is the father of all sinners. Then she asked me to recite Ephesians 6:1-2. (so I guess you are now smiling).

She went ahead to explain that for disobeying her, I had let the devil rule me and the beating was simply to remove the devil from inside me! Otherwise, she loved me very much. I believed her. She promised not to ever beat me again because I was becoming a big girl. She kept that promise – as a mother.

At an early age, she had taught me to consider the consequences of any action I undertook – a lesson I still apply to date- so I did not get into big trouble much and performed well in school which made me a darling of the teachers. They got me to recite solo poems in the music festivals quite early which kind of made me a celebrity in school. Did I say mum taught in the same school I attended?

My class teachers reported anything I did to her with such dedication. I hated the multiplication table! I did nothing to cram my 1 times 1. I didn’t care! Every morning our teacher would take us outside and ask us to write down particular multiples. The only one I would get right was the 1*the number= that number. The rest I’d leave blank. For every one someone would fail, they would get a 1 cane beating at the feet. So for example, when we were supposed to do multiples of 3, 6 and 9 from 1*9=9 to 10*9=90 i would get only 3 right.

This means my feet would experience 27 strokes of cane. My mum – professionally known as Miss Rugano had given my class teacher permission to beat me additional strokes for being so daft in maths yet I was a teacher’s daughter. If Miss Rugano found me in trouble, mostly loitering and noisemaking, she would give me an additional punishment or cane only me if I was part of a group. Any one feel me on this one? Teacher’s kids out there? This went on till I went to a boarding school. She eventually helped me with my tables at home.

Back home. My baby sister adores me. You know those kinds of relationships where we act like ‘no one can mess with you as long as am around except me! (Insert evil laugh)’. I liked borrowing (stealing) sugar. I could no longer kick Wacera out to have a pinch, spoonful, handful or the whole bowl because she was getting clever with time. If you can’t kick them out, recruit them! So I’d give her to taste and make her promise not to tell mum.

That promise would last as long as I would take to be blackmailed to doing stuff for her. It would eventually end something like this ‘Wangui si unibebe ama niambie mum’ or any other demand in mum’s presence. Goes without saying, mum would know what I did. On the other hand, if mum was cross with me and she implied sending harsh treatment my way, the poor lady would have to deal with Her Majesty Wacera and vice versa.

We had her outnumbered but not out witted. She simply divided and conquered! She’d send me to the shops then beat Wacera or ask Wacera to go and play, then give me a lecture. She heard me one day call my sister a monkey and conveniently reminded me that I was the monkey’s sister and she was our mum. Meaning I had called her a monkey too. The guilt.

Then I was on the verge of teenage and doors started being banged when I felt violated. Tactics changed. Mum would start talking to herself. It sounded something like this… ‘Today was a good day! I did (she would give an account of her day). Thank you…’ By now am wondering what is wrong with the woman.
Monologue continues… ‘Thank you for two wonderful beautiful interesting daughters. They are quite a joy to me. But this big one, this older one, is making me afraid for my doors. What if the wood chips? Oh my doors!  I hope the little one will not be hit or hurt.’ At this point I know who the topic is.
Monologue continues…’ So Lord I ask that You would help me to be sensitive to her needs. Help me love her despite my doors.

Sometimes she is wearing me out and I don’t have the strength or wisdom to deal with her. Help me Lord. Help her too especially now that she is growing…’ on and on she would continue. The effect this disciplining method had on me was great. Needless to say I don’t bang doors now.

There are so many stories about how mum dealt with us, very many. This is not an account of how horrible my childhood was. As a matter of fact, these years with mum were my best years of my life and some of you have had bad expiriences. At the end of the day we knew she loved us despite any random disciplining episode. She was not spiteful. I was never afraid of her – except when I knew I had done wrong.

I learned lots of life lessons from how she lived. I mean, she applied scripture in every situation even those that didn’t involve us kids (those that I know of). I do not usually get mad at someone for reprimanding or disciplining me but I mostly expect to know what my crime is. This does not  always happen which may leave me hurt or angry. Then again not everyone is like my mother so I end up praying (not in their presence like she did) or applying scriptures like ‘do not let the sun go down while you are still angry’ Ephesians 4:26.

Then there is God, who trains those that He loves. Check out Hebrews 12:4-11. He uses hard times, fun times, inconvenient situations, other people’s lives etc to train us. I don’t know about you but with me, my heavenly Father is quite random and unusual, very sensitive to my pains but also very firm.

I do complain a little but knowing He knows what’s ahead and my mum didn’t yet I appreciated her, helps me praise through the training. Kindly share your discipline episodes …

The walk down the lane is on a pause for now as we discuss our childhoods. Thank you for your company. Cheers! 😀


2 thoughts on “Spare the rod, spoil the child?

  1. That was a very interesting read! So well written! I didn’t know that about auntie but I definitely can agree on your hyperactivity…you were seriously hyper. We want more! We want more!


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