“Just wait ‘til your father gets home!”
When our grown children visit, that’s a phrase I frequently hear when our son is reminiscing about his upbringing and how I, as a mother, chose to discipline. Need I say his memory and mine differ?
I neither deny nor doubt using that phase but I definitely deny using it as frequently as he recalls its being touted. Could it be that he, as a child, seldom listened, but when I pulled out the big guns, so to speak, he knew he’d better listen…or else?
One reason, I know I didn’t use it as often as he seems to think I did is the fact I did not believe in passing the buck. I was the mother in the home and as such, I was Johnny-on-the-spot. When I saw a wrong, it was my job to correct it. Even though I joke about my having been the youngest in a family of four and the only girl, and having learned well the art of tattling, I didn’t choose to bring that art into the raising of our children. No, just waiting to tell dad wasn’t my choice of discipline. “Nip it in the bud,” as Deputy Barney Fife has oft been heard to say.
Additional reasons “Just wait until your father gets home” wouldn’t be particularly effective include:
1) When our son was approximately three to five years old, his dad was working two fulltime jobs. During that time we had no car, so that meant we used the city bus, walked, or after his late night shift at a radio station, the dad in our family took a well-deserved cab-ride home, arriving around 1 a.m.
Waking that kid at that time for punishment sure seemed like exactly what he needed, but I always tried to be a woman of my word, and if I had said, “Just wait until your father gets home,” surely I would have meant it, so-o-o… Oh, no wonder he remembers it with such clarity. I wonder how it has slipped my mind so completely.
2) Following that, eventually we did have a car. My husband’s job took him out of town to manage an ice cream shop. He left early in the mornings and came home late many nights. Eventually, job transfers allowed us to make moves, but those were after we’d spent two summers living in a tent in order to be where his job was.
3) That brings us up to our son’s being approximately age ten when we spent a summer in England where Dad went to work in the morning, came home mid-day for a long lunch, then spent the afternoon up until ten p.m. or the wee hours of the following morning at The Fitties, what we would call an RV park, helping introduce the equivalent of Kentucky Fried Chicken.
“Just wait until your father gets home”? I think not!
4) Oh, but wait! Teen years were yet to come, right? Oh, yes, the teen years. Travel was introduced when summer vacation arrived. Son was up early in the morning and off in the car beside dad. They made quite a pair as they sold fruit and produce to restaurants along the east coast of Maine on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, then the southern coastal areas on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays!
Oh, yeah, right; “Just wait until your father gets home!” (And brings you with him!)
5) By this time, our son had spent too much time with his dad. He had learned too well the art of teasing. One day I was seriously aggravated with him. He was trying to laugh me out of it as he looked me straight in the eye and said, “I’m not afraid of you.” I was so taken by surprise. I lost it. I laughed! At that very minute, I knew that from now on, whenever discipline was to be dished up, I would have to say,
“Just wait until your father gets home!”
© Marilyn Sue (Libby) Moore 3-3-2011