Biographical Fiction posted May 18, 2014

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A lesson learned

Hallowed Be Thy Name

by jaydub99

The Lord's Prayer has deep roots in scripture. It can be found in the Gospel of both Luke and Matthew and figures prominently in the Sermon on the Mount. Many parts of this prayer were inside the original Anglican Book of Common Prayer. For those followers of the church these words are holy and reverent. The meaning of the prayer has been debated over the years but its place as a holy and spiritual text has never been disputed. It was early in 1978 when I received the worst whipping of my life because of this prayer.

My father was a devout Episcopalian. He insisted that we all went to St. Andrews on Sunday and he was an active part of the service. He was also British which when combined with piousness made him hardcore in the paternal department. Fear of God and the feel of the rod will raise a good young man; this was the motto of the British father. For the most part it was easy enough to fly under the radar. Go to church, don't question things and shut the hell up. I am not sure what came over me that evening in 1978 but something did.

I was lying in bed and for some reason I needed to tell my father something. To this day I have no recollection of what it was I needed to say. At ten years old it seemed important at the time. Deep, vital and meaningful. I was insistent that I needed an audience with him immediately. I was yelling for him to come to my bedroom. My younger sister's room was at the top of the stairs and he would have to walk by hers to get to mine. I heard her ask him to stop in to listen to her say her prayers. I chalked it up to a big, obsequious ass kiss on her part and was pissed. As she began to recite the words to the Lord's Prayer, I simultaneously began to mock it loudly and with clear defiance to its reverence. I had barely hit the second line when I heard the whistle of my father's leather belt leaving the loops around his waist. Ftuptuptuptup.. I turned to see him hovering above me and the striking cobra of belt lashing out at me. "A taste of belt" he called it. As in..."You want a taste of belt young man?" I often thought about the smart ass response but never uttered it. I wouldn't have dared. No matter how often I tried it, I never developed a liking for the taste of belt. I can assure you that whatever it was I did to bring on the cobra, I never did it again. Through our interaction, I learned a lesson and a few things about life. My father had never heard of the "time out" or the need to tell a child more than once to do something. He had the belt and that usually ensured instant compliance. Maybe it was fear, maybe it was respect. I know it only happened a few times in my childhood and each time I knew I was wrong.

Today I am a parent and the belt has long been retired as a method of child rearing. I would have loved to see my father's face as I threatened to call Child Protective Services or told him to shut up. Different time and mind set. Still, I think it has a place in our culture. I may differ with the philosophy but cannot argue with the results. There have been many times I have been at the grocery store or in a Target and had to endure the antics of an ill-behaved child. A temper tantrum or a melt down by some petulant child directed at the parents. I am not talking normal childhood angst but disrespectful, entitled garbage. One kid I witnessed blasted his Dad with an F bomb over not getting a Star Wars DVD. That kid looked at his father and using his outside voice called him something that rhymes with blucking blasshole. I stood back and waited for his father to lose his mind. Oh, I thought, this is gonna be good. Nothing. Dad looked at him and gently reprimanded him. Talked like he was in a Mr. Rogers mimic contest. That kid didn't give a crap what his father was saying, he just demonstrated total contempt. Maybe a taste of belt would have made this youngster reconsider his words, teach him some respect. Maybe not. Probably goes deeper than that. What worries me is that if you are blasting your father with an F bomb what do you have in store for your teacher? Your employer? Yikes, I can't even imagine what my Dad would have done if I had said that to him.

Childhood Memory writing prompt entry
Writing Prompt
Relate a vivid memory from your childhood.

"And be grateful. Our scars have the power to remind us that the past was real." Hannibal Lecter (Thomas Harris)
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