Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Contraband and the Shame Method of Parenting

At our Ma/Pa training, we role-played the shake down we were to do with our new children. Put a hand on each shoulder, look meaningfully into their eyes, and ask with great sincerity, using their name, “Johnny, is there anything in your bucket that should NOT be in your bucket?” Smile, wait silently. “Johnny, is there anything taped to your body or hidden in secret pockets?” When they begin to sweat and twitch, you break the shoulder hold, thus ending the Vulcan mind-meld, spread out your apron, and collect the Speed Stick, Juicy Fruit, and electronic devices that would come pouring forth. Unfortunately, I’ve never been much of a touchy-feely person and staring games make me uncomfortable, so just to initiate conversation, early-on in our trek, I asked, “If any of you could bring an item of contraband, which I’m SURE you wouldn’t, but IF you could, what would it be?”

After trek finished, one of my daughters said that that single question shamed her into not using the deodorant she’d hidden away in her sleeping bag. One morning, after a soggy night, Pa Beck hung a certain other daughter’s damp sleeping bag out to dry. From the bag, rained down contraband items enough to secure her a warm welcome at the next Walla Walla young women’s night. We’ll never know if my shame-them-into-submission question worked on all of our contraband-toting children or if the owner of this sleeping bag actually used her deodorant, but I will say that I never detected an unpleasant aroma coming from her direction. Pa Beck just laughed and re-deposited the contraband back into the bottom of her sleeping bag. I wonder if reading this, every single one of our daughters will wonder if I'm talking about her. To each one of them, the answer is yes, it’s you.

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