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  • The Memaw Factor

    January 19, 2006

    Discipline is the parenting issue about which I have the least confidence. Because I haven’t read every book ever printed on the topic? Because I haven’t bent the ear of every person on the planet who has a child? Because my child is an angel and does not require discipline? No. No. And Almost. Oops. Make that No, Almost and then No.

    The problem isn’t even so much sorting through all the competing philosophies – Dr. T. Berry Brazelton, Dr. Phil, Dr. Karp, Dr. Spock, Dr. Seuss or even Dr. Scholls. The problem is that no matter what discipline philosophy you adopt, it doesn’t take into account the Memaw factor.

    On our last visit to Memaw’s house there was a particular item in her living room that Sean could not resist. After the third and final warning not to touch it, I whisked him off to the bedroom to have a discussion and it went like this:

    Scene: The interrogation room (or Memaw’s guest bedroom). The ceiling light has only one working bulb. The room is bathed in a dim ominous wash of green. The suspect is brought into the room and made to stand on the bed for interrogation. He is not offered an attorney or read his rights because, well, he has neither. His mother emerges from the shadows and stands by the bed to speak to him eyeball to eyeball:

    AM: (using her most authoritative tone, which by the way, never worked on the dog either) Sean, I asked you not to touch that, didn’t I?

    Sean: Yes Mommy.

    AM: But you touched it anyway, didn’t you?

    Sean: Yes Mommy.

    AM: You have been disobedient, so now Mommy has discipline you. Do you understand what Mommy is saying?

    Sean: Yes Mommy. (Pauses briefly and then calls into the living room) MEMAW! GET ME!

    Stifled giggles heard from the living room room.

    * * *

    What now Dr. Phil??

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