Little angels…you bet. What could cause a mother to spank her eleven little angels?
“Okay, everybody line up.” Mom commanded her little angels.
Mom didn’t use platitudes like, “This is going to hurt me more than it hurts you.” Instead, she’d say, “This is going to hurt. Maybe you’ll learn something.” We did learn that we didn’t want a return engagement.
“Don’t get me wrong. Mom is a saint, but it takes a special person to raise eleven little angels, (soon to be twelve), and know the right amount of chastisement or praise to administer. Today, right now, at this moment, Mom is administering chastisement, and it isn’t going to be pleasant for the offenders.
Mom always started with the youngest and proceeded to the oldest in age order. The smallest of her little angels was two year old Toby. The three swats to his bottom were little more than pats. The way he squealed a person would think she took a club to him.
“Go to the piano room and sit on the couch,” she said
He obeyed immediately. His heart was broken, but his posterior wasn’t even red.
The swats progressively became harder the farther up line she went.
“Why are my swats harder than Jenny’s?” I asked.
Mom gave her renowned scientific explanation. “Because, the good Lord has given you a rear with a greater cross-sectional area to absorb the swats, and I want to insure that every square inch of your rear remembers this instruction.”
As much as I didn’t like it, I couldn’t argue with Mom’s reasoning. She could be strict at times, but she was rarely wrong. I was just glad I wasn’t my oldest brother, Larson.
After each successive whipping the violator was directed into the piano room until all punishments were complete. Most little angels entered the piano room teary-eyed, but all of us were laughing by the time the last swats were administered. We laughed at each other but not in a mean way; enduring the same punishment gave us a closeness we might never have enjoyed.
“Did you see Jenny cry before she even got her swats?” laughed Larson.
“Yeah, I bet Mason won’t put his hands behind him to block the blows anymore,” said June.
“I once put a book in my jeans,” said Dell, “I won’t make that mistake again.”
Sometimes we laughed so hard that Mom would yell, “Do I need to come in there and remind you of the seriousness of the situation?”
“NO, MA’AM!” her little angels yelled in unison.
What caused our kind loving mother to chastise her “little angels” in such a fashion, you might ask. Could it be the “two bucket egg fight,” or the “down hill pillow slalom,” or even the “Olympic hedge jumping competition?” No, those are other stories. Today it is the “bare knuckle boxing extravaganza.”
The day started well enough. It was the weekend before Thanksgiving and all eleven little angels were home. Usually, Larson and Dell worked for a farmer named Clavell Quistby on Saturdays, but a hard rain Friday night rendered the fields too soggy to work. All of us were rather rambunctious in anticipation of the holiday. After all, Aunt Laurel was coming to stay with us until Mom had the baby. Dad, Larson, and I were leaving Tuesday morning to pick her up in Denver and bring her home. Normally, Dell would have gone instead of me, but he had a crucial Trailblazer Scout meeting to attend Tuesday night.
Anyway, we were fired up and raring to go. Mom went shopping for food and supplies to last through the Thanksgiving weekend. Normally, one of my two older sisters, June or Stormy, would help Mom shop while the other baby-sat the youngest little angels, but Mom was in need of noise relief. She told my older brothers and sisters to baby-sit while she was gone. As perfect as Mom is that could have been a mistake. Oh, they were old enough. Larson was sixteen, Dell was fifteen, June was fourteen, and Stormy was twelve, and all of them were great babysitters most of the time, but Mom forgot to place ultimate authority in one person. Don’t judge Mom too harshly; she was in need of some serious peace and quiet. The situation was a prime example of the old saying, “Too many cooks spoil the broth.”
All of us loved each other, but some of us didn’t like each other very much sometimes. Larson and June were like oil and water; they didn’t mix very well in certain situations. Sometimes they didn’t act like little angels…well, most the time they didn’t act like little angels.
“Let’s clean up the house before Mom gets back,” said June. “Stormy, you start sweeping the floor. Mason, take out…”
“Wait a minute,” said Larson. “Who died and made you boss?”
“Mom always leaves me in charge when she goes shopping. I’m the oldest girl.”
“So what,” said Larson. “I’m the oldest, PERIOD!”
“That’s right,” said Dell.
“That’s too bad,” said June. “Jenny, get the mop buck…”
“You’re not in charge here,” said Larson.
“Yes, I am,” replied June.
“Let’s take a vote,” said Dell.
“That’s fine with me,” said Larson.
“Me too,” replied June.
“Okay,” said Larson. “Who wants to clean house like June says?”
No one raised a hand.
“Who wants to do something else?” asked Larson.
All the little angels’ hands shot into the air.
“Looks like everyone wants me to be the boss,” said Larson.
“That’s cheating!” said June.
“He won fair and square,” said Dell. “No one voted for you.”
“Who wants to have a bare knuckle boxing extravaganza,” asked Larson.
We looked at each other and slowly raised our hands.
When June left the room to sulk in the kitchen she bumped Larson.
“You better not bump me again,” said Larson.
“I’m not afraid of you…you…big ignoramus.”
“Wow, that just cuts me to the quick,” laughed Larson.
“Mason, get a blanket,” commanded Larson “Stormy, get some clean rags. (To this day I haven’t figured out why he wanted the clean rags.) The rest of us will move everything out of the middle of the living room.”
Shortly, we had accomplished our missions. Everything was moved, and the blanket was placed on the floor.
“The blanket is the ring,” announced Larson. “If a person gets off the blanket three times they lose. We’re using the ‘Mark-us-of-queens-berry’ rules,” said Larson.
“What’s that mean?” I asked.
“Means you can do anything you want to your opponent.”
June entered the room and sat down on the couch. “You’re going to get it when Mom gets home,” she said.
“Shut up,” replied Larson. “Dell and I will be the judges, Mason will be the referee, Stormy is the time-keeper, and since Toby is too little to fight he gets to be the gong.”
Jenny ran into the kitchen and got two pan lids and took them to Toby. Toby started clanging the pan lids together.
“Okay, Toby, that’s good,” said Larson. You only get to be the gong when Stormy tells you.”
Toby didn’t care what anyone said he was going to clang the gong whenever he wanted. Clang, Clang, Clang, Clang.
“Jenny, hold his arms until Stormy says,” commanded Larson.
Jenny grabbed Toby’s arms and held them still.
“He’s trying to bite me!” she said.
“Quit whining,” said Dell. “You’re bigger than he is.”
“Okay,” said Larson. “Tess, you and Abbygayle are the first combatants.”
Tess and Abbygayle went to the middle of the blanket.
I was the referee. I put my hands on Tess and Abbygayle’s shoulders and instructed them. “The first one to knock the other off the blanket three times is the winner, or if one of you cries uncle the other wins.”
“Ring the gong,” said Larson.
Jenny turned Toby’s arm loose.
“Stop the gong!” yelled Dell.
Jenny grabbed Toby’s arms. “He’s trying to bite me again!”
Four year old Tess pushed three year old Abbygayle toward the edge of the blanket. Both girls were laughing. Abbygayle’s foot touched the floor.
“One point for Tess!” I yelled.
Toby’s arm broke free of Jenny’s grasp and he smashed her finger between the pan lids.
“Ouch!“ she cried.
Clang, Clang, Clang, Clang….
Tess pushed Abbygayle while she wasn’t looking. Abbygayle fell down and began crying.
“We declare Tess the winner,” announced Larson.
“I’m sorry,” said Tess as she gave Abbygayle a hug.
They ran to the couch and started jumping on it.
“Delta and Berniece, it’s your turn,” bellowed Dell.
Clang, Clang, Clang, Clang….
“Shut the gong up!” yelled Larson.
“I quit!” cried Jenny as she ran to the couch.
Clang, Clang, Clang, Clang….
Delta pushed Berniece, and Berniece’s foot touched the floor.
“That’s one point for Delta,” I said.
“She cheated,” said Stormy.
“Too bad,” I replied.
Clang, Clang, Clang, Clang….
Delta pushed Berniece off the blanket again. Berniece tackled Delta and they began wrestling on the floor.
“Another point for Delta,” I said.
“She cheated again!” yelled Stormy.
“Tough!” I replied.
Clang, Clang, Clang, Clang….
Stormy pushed me and I tripped backward over Berniece and Delta who were still wrestling on the floor. I got up and chased Stormy around the room.
Larson and Dell were laughing.
“See what you’ve done!” shouted June as she pushed Larson.
“I told you not to shove me!” yelled Larson as he shoved June back onto the couch.
June began crying.
“You didn’t need to push her that hard,” said Dell.
“What are you going to do about it?”
Dell ran at Larson and pushed him. Larson and Dale were locked in combat. June and Jenny were crying on the couch. Delta and Berniece were wrestling on the floor. Stormy and I were jumping all over the furniture as I chased her around the living room. Abbygayle and Tess were jumping on the couch yelling, “Bare-knuckle, Bare-knuckle!” And Toby was still ringing the gong. Clang, Clang, Clang, Clang….
C R A S H !!!
No one knew exactly who broke the floor lamp. (And I wasn’t about to tell everything I knew. That‘s one of the benefits of being in a large family…plausible deniability.)
Just then, at that very moment, Mom walked through the front door. (She always had the uncanny knack of catching us in our full glory.) We turned our heads and looked at Mom as though we were starring into the eyes of the “Grim Reaper” himself.
Mom took several minutes to survey the damage caused by her little angels. No one moved a muscle until Mom spoke.
Finally, she sighed and spoke, “Mason, take the lamp to the trash barrel.”
“June, get the broom and dust pan, and sweep up the glass.”
“Stormy, pick up the blanket and take it to the dirty clothes.”
“Larson and Dell, put the furniture back where it’s supposed to be.”
“Jenny, get the ruler.”
We knew the ruler meant there were going to be some red-reared little angels.
After our tasks were complete and the groceries were put away Mom told us to line up. That’s when the paddlings began.
Mom made us wait a half hour before she called us out of the piano room. We were summoned one at a time. She visited with each of her little angels about five minutes. The discussions weren’t about the boxing matches, (she knew pretty much what happened). Mom asked us if we had anything we needed to discuss. It was her way of saying, “You messed up, the chastisement is over, and I still love you very much.” She never said it in so many words, but we knew.
The lineup was literally a stroke of genius. We behaved for long periods of time after a lineup, and we didn’t argue or bicker much either.
Whenever we were in public other parents commented, “Your children are always well behaved. How do you do it?”
Mom smiled and replied, “I’ve been blessed with a flock of little angels.”
Mom knew her little angels weren’t very angelic most of time; raising the flock took patience and hard work, but it was a job Mom loved. We weren’t raised to be happy; we were raised to be responsible, and somehow, happiness tagged along for the ride.
Copyright 2009 J-me
If you have a story about your little angels I’d love to hear it.