Children these days don’t know what child abuse is.
That’s what she said. After having child protective services show up at her house because her child called them after a spanking. After attempting to send the child away with child protective services for their temerity at attempting to tell her how to raise her children. After the door of the narrative was closed in the face of intervention by others in her desire to raise her own children the way she wanted, she said “children these days don’t know what child abuse is.”
I wish that were true. I want that to be true.
I was beaten every day as a child. Through almost two years of school, I received daily licks for refusing to participate in class with the other children. Autism or dysgraphia, take your pick. My father used a belt on us at least weekly if not more often. My stepfather, offended at something or other I said, or perhaps outraged at my attempts to deflect his anger at my mother away from her, knocked me to the floor and kicked me in the stomach.
I know what child abuse is.
There is a quiet, calculating place in my mind. I know it well. It is where I go when I feel that the pressure outside myself is more than I can handle. I hide there while the tumult goes on around me. I go there when people talk about punishing children, talk as if children deserve punishment just for being children. When they talk about how guns aren’t a manifestation of physical violence solidified (they are) I went there while I was being beaten as a child. While I was on the living room floor being kicked in the stomach. While I was on the laundry room floor of my apartment building after being punched in the face by a neighbor. It is my hiding place.
In that place I contemplate revenge. I contemplate what justice would look like, if there were a thing called justice in the world. Would the children be given permission to beat their parents? Could you make neighbors who assault their wives and other people around them disappear, without having to face justice for your actions in making them disappear?
Gun owners statistically face justice for owning physical manifestations of violence since a significant portion of them will end up taking their own lives with their treasured possessions. But what about the victims who never know the peace of a wrong made right? Where is justice for them?
I tried never to exact corporal punishment on my children. I have tried never to physically lash out at anyone all my life. I cannot trust myself. There is too much rage in there for me to ever be capable of measured violence. My children begged for spankings, because a spanking would be easy and that would get the punishment over with in their minds. They had to come up with the punishment for their own transgressions. Frequently the punishments they devised were harsher than what the wife and I had agreed on as a proper punishment for whatever it was they did.
That is what children are, just like most people are. Harder on themselves than any outside observer has the right to believe based on the behavior in question. Only sociopaths and psychopaths (and other extremely mentally challenged types) lack those self-monitoring default behaviors. Adult supervision just means watching the children. It doesn’t mean you have to punish them.