I recall neither my misdeeds nor the spanking, but I do remember the humiliation when my dear mother demanded that I lower my panties to show my buttocks. The sight must have been worrisome, because for the first time in all my three years, she took me to the grocery and bought me a candy bar. I don’t think I understood her regrets over the punishment, but the unexpected treat elated me.
Jan and I promised that we would never raise a hand against Aisha. However, I confess that I am guilty of raising my voice regularly. I love my daughter more than life, but when she pushes the limits of my patience or defies my parental authority, my self-control tends to grow wings and fly out of the window.
A source of recurring friction is Aisha’s lack of sense of time. Every single school day, I have to urge her, “Come on, honey—it’s late, hurry up now.” I’m always the first to get in the car, waiting for her to race out of the house, her jacket dangling by one sleeve as she holds socks or earrings to put on.
One morning last week, she dragged herself out of bed at 7:45 once again. She got dressed, packed her school bag, and gulped down her yogurt. While she was brushing her teeth, I headed outside to the car. The engine hummed as I sat drumming my fingers on the steering wheel for more than five minutes. Only the concern that I might wake up my husband prevented me from honking the horn in a frustration frenzy. Finally, Aisha jumped into the car. The clock showed 8:08.
“What took you so long? You know we need at least twelve minutes to get to school—you’ll be five minutes late.” I backed out of the driveway and drove as fast as possible around the potholes in the dirt road.
Instead of replying, Aisha flipped down the vanity mirror. “Yuck! My eyeliner is a big failure today.”
As the car roared uphill, the implication of her words hit me. “What? Did you put on makeup when you were already late?” My voice grew louder. “And I sat waiting for you in the car?”
I slapped the wheel and further increased the volume. “How in the world did it enter your mind to put on makeup at a moment you’re supposed to be on your way to school?”
“Today you won’t escape, young lady. I’ll have to sign a tardy slip, and it will go on your record.” I knew she loathed the idea. “That will teach you.”
A glance to the side revealed that she had her eyes shut. I knew she was praying to be allowed in without a tardy slip; she always does when she’s late.
Well, sweetheart, your prayer won’t help you this time.
8:20—The gravel crunched as I parked the car in front of the school. Impossible—the doors are still open. Aisha grabbed her school bag and rushed inside the school building without saying goodbye. Surely, they won’t let her pass. I opened the car and was about to step out when she appeared in the doorway and gave me a thumbs up, her face flushing with triumph.
I slumped back in my seat. God, what are you doing? She deserves a rebuke! I could use some backup in my attempts to educate my daughter. How will she ever take me seriously?
Grumbling, I reached for the key.
What do you remember—the spanking or the candy bar?
My hand froze in midair. As the thought sank in, a sigh escaped my lips, and I bowed my head. Okay God, You win. I’m sorry. Not my way, but Yours.
Feeling small before the great God of grace, I started the car and drove home.
I first submitted this article to the FaithWriters Weekly Writing Challenge. The topic was “Pride.”