Monday, August 10, 2009

How to Discipline Your Children Southern Style

my mother, thrilled I am taking her picture whilst eating

My mother is a soft-spoken, talented, well-dressed, gentle, Southern woman. She obeys all of polite society's fashion rules, would never wear flip-flops or denim skirts to church or jeans to Walt Disney World ( can you believe the women who wear bikini tops?? I used to work there...I saw all kinds of things). She knows when to use a whom and when to use a who. She says "Pahl-meh-tah" intead of the Yankee "Pall-met-toe." She gives her grandchildren lots of "Shuh-gah" underneath their chinny chin chins. She plays old Southern hymns on the piano and we love to gather around it and harmonize together. She, like all good Southern women has her china, crystal, and silver and knows where each fork goes and how to use it. She wraps Christmas presents beautifully. She makes the best banana pudding with vanilla wafers you have ever had. For real. I adore my mom. I wish I were more like her. She is all of these wonderful things above, but she is also one tough woman. She has had cancer three times, breast cancer being one of them, and fought hard each time.

So it might or might not surprise you to know that this composed, genteel woman could put the fear of you-know-what into us when we were naughty. Let's face it, a southern woman might know her manners and how to entertain, but by heaven they sure as shootin' know how to keep their kids in line.

Exhibit A: My brother, attempted to sass my mother while she was busy cooking. For the record, the only way he even would have thought about doing this is because my Dad was not at home. Sassing a mother in front of a father in these parts is the quickest way to a blackout.

Soooo.... my brother decides to start said sassing. My mom whipped around faster than a tornado, the chicken broth still dripping off her wooden spoon and said, "Son, I will knock you into next week if you ever say that to me again.

Next: Me, younger and dumber (than now). Who knows what I did...really at all blends in together after all these years of righteous living (haha). Anyway, I just remember my mom telling me my all time favorite: "You ever do that one more time and I am gonna rip your arms off and beat you with the bloody stumps."

Runners Up:
"You are going to pick yourself up on the other side of the street."
"I am going to hang you up by your toenails on the neighbor's clothesline."
"What are you, poor white trash?" (Poor white trash is completely different from good simple country folk) (By the way, you can have tons of money and still be white trash...hence the term white trash with money. I used to see these at WDW also, but that's another post.)

A good disciplinarian can stop a kid in their tracks with a look only. Like my mother, I am a teacher and a mom, so my kids don't stand a chance. I can turn around, arch my eyebrow with an "ex-CUSE ME?" and that's that. How about, "What did you just say to me? Are you talking back to me?"

Sometimes my friends and I see a mother who's kid is clearly in charge and feel great pity for her. Poor thing. One time another mother's son was stomping on top of the baby grand piano AT CHURCH. The mother just kind of clapped her hands in that Sweet-Sister-Molly-Mormon fashion and said, "No, no sweetie, please get down." Little sweetie stomped harder. Mama just said, "He is such a little character." I'm not kidding, that's a true story.

I understand that for some raised in other parts of the country it might seem a bit harsh. But southern children KNOW they are loved. They also know which lines they can't cross. We love and kiss and hug and snuggle with our little ones, and we also love them enough to make sure they don't turn into little spoiled brats.

I am posting this with love to my friends ('specially you kymmie) who love to hear my mom's....isms.


  1. That was awesome. I'll be needing to memorize some of those mom's - isms for sure. And I thought you were older than your brother?

  2. I am, I am!! I'm the oldest, but no one believes it cause I'm so dang much shorter than everyone else!

  3. I'm Jewish, born and bred in a multi-ethnic but largely Italian Catholic neighborhood Brooklyn, NY, and have more in common with your mom's style of child-rearing than most would ever imagine.

    Just picture the chicken broth replaced with dripping tomato sauce, and you'll get the picture.

  4. Cheryl, I love it. It's probably much more universal than I realize. One time we were at Disney, on a suspension bridge on Tom Sawyer's island. This Asian grandma was with her young grandson who kept the bridge swaying back and forth. She was getting after him in another language. The words were foreign to me, but the tone was universal! I think I knew EXACTLY what she was saying.


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