Appreciating life’s lessons; even the hard ones

“Appreciate your parents. You never know what they went through for you.” — Anonymous

Some memories make you appreciate being here. Mine do, especially as applied to my sisters falling for my ideas of fun, to punishment those ideas earned me, and to my parents who endured it while still living long lives.

Eight of ten experts today discourage spanking, but research confirms eight of ten parents, as mine did, still consider sparing the rod less effective for discouraging undesired performance than reminders applied to a youngster’s backside.

Mom sometimes applied justice with a hairbrush considering it done. More serious infractions evoked the dreaded, “Wait until your father gets home!”

It was a memorable hairbrush lesson that marked the time I was about five and decided to join the neighbors for ice cream. Loading up the car and seeing me in the back yard, they extended an invitation. Mom’s decision was, “no.” Not pleased with that answer however, I went back outside and went with them anyway.

My return was to an extremely distraught mother. I thought it was because she was glad to see me, but mom corrected my error in judgement by marching me off to the bathroom. As was typical of mom’s punishment, she was an expert at applying the brush while simultaneously crying her eyes out.

An encore performance around that same time pushed my poor mother so far over the edge, she skipped the hairbrush. She didn’t even wait for dad to come home, but summoned him from work.

My younger sister, Leslie, was not blessed with lots of hair as a toddler. Mom nurtured it and taped bows to her head until it finally began to grow.

My idea one day was to play barbershop, and Leslie was my first customer. A few snips employing dull “safe” school scissors, and Leslie not only had a horrible haircut, she passed for legally bald.

Mom was sitting in the hallway floor sorting through boxes in some sort of closet cleaning endeavor when we beamed with pride to show her the fun we had been having. She looked, said something and returned to her project. In a heartbeat, her eyes got bigger, she turned and looked again, and began screaming. I thought something was wrong with her. Turns out something was wrong, and it was me.

Arriving at this conclusion, I figured my best move was to be somewhere else, and I took off. Mom reached out, grabbed the waistband on my pants and began reeling me in.

She looked at me and sobbed, then looked at Leslie and whimpered. She was hysterical, hugging Leslie and still holding me by my pants when dad arrived. Forget, “mom’s hair brush in the bathroom.” That day, I had earned a “dose of dad’s belt in the kitchen.”

Just as things seemed to settle down, Sunday rolled around. The family arrived at church with nicely groomed hair; everyone except Leslie who was sporting a bonnet. Mom tried to explain, but she just started crying all over again whereupon impromptu prayers were offered by nearby brethren. I bowed my head, hoping some of them were for me.

I can say, however, whether it was my parent’s prayers or my punishment, I am glad to be here and there were two things I never did again: Go rogue with the neighbors for ice cream, or play barbershop with my sisters.

—Leon Aldridge

Aldridge columns are also published in the Center, Texas, Light and Champion ( and the Mount Pleasant, Texas, Tribune newspapers (

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