The first Yiddish word I learned was kibitz, and I was the prime kibitzer in my family. Later I became a great buttinski. If I heard a conversation, I joined in. When telephones were attached to a wall, my mother never had a conversation by herself if I was within earshot.
My parents sent me to school with a stern warning: If I got spanked in school, when I got home I was to tell them, and they would spank me harder. School spankings were not allowed, period.
Mrs. Hoover spanked me in the first grade for talking without permission. I was called to the front of the classroom where I stood in front of the entire class and was spanked on my bottom. Public humiliation was a huge deterrent in the 1960’s.
I wore a pretty plaid Kate Greenaway dress, and those little anklets with lace trim. Girls who wear Kate Greenaway dresses should behave much better than that!
The ruffled crinoline petticoat dulled the swats.
I continued my wicked ways through the fourth grade. I was a sneaky child. I never once told my parents I got spanked in school. It was never mentioned on the report cards, even though it was always noted that I was very talkative, talked out of turn, and never pulled very good marks in citizenship.
Good heavens! Everything was so dang interesting! I was interested in everything except keeping my opinion to myself.
I got caught in the fourth grade. One evening I was sitting in the bathtub and Mama asked me what that was on my hip.
Nothing, I said.
There’s a bruise, she said. Why is your hip bruised?
I fell down, I said.
No, you didn’t, she said. Your whole hip is bruised! What did you do?
What did I do? A girl and two boys and I were pushing and acting up in the water fountain line in PE, which was a colossal no-no. I don’t remember the PE teacher’s name, but he was a young man in his 20’s and he sent all of us to the equipment closet for licks. I was a skinny girl, but I had to bend over and grab my knees just like the boys, and he busted my butt with his wooden paddle with the dirty white tape wrapped around the handle. Oh, my gawd that hurt! There was no petticoat to protect my skinny butt. I tried so hard not to cry. Crying was more humiliating than the spanking.
Today, the teacher and the school would have been sued. They probably owe me thousands of dollars for damages.
I didn’t get spanked again, but my mom did something worse: She told my beloved grandmother. This is going to break her heart, she said.
No! Not break my Gaga’s heart!!!
Then we found out the teacher was in such a horrible mood that day because he was having to ship out to Vietnam.
Yes, let’s vent on small children.
But, I continued with my running commentary on everything. Mystery Science Theater was based on me. I talked through every movie, every TV show. So did my mom and my sister. We had the greatest time! We were more entertaining than what we were watching! Well, whoever was sitting near us wasn’t amused.
My son Christopher was a delight to me because he joined in in my movie commentary. That annoyed the heck out of my other son and my husband, so Chris and I had to sit away from them in theaters so we could whisper in peace.
Good ol’ Chris inherited my kibitz-ness and got into trouble in school for talking out of turn. How could I punish my own Mini Me after those awful parent-teacher meetings? Fortunately, he never got the paddle.
Recently I’ve become a Benedictine Oblate. The greatest challenge for me is to zip my lip and be quiet. Not everyone needs to know what I’m thinking. There is much to be heard in the silence. And a bit rougher translation is shut up, sit down, and let God take care of it.
Oh, it’s a challenge. I’ve been an Oblate for at least six years now, and keeping my opinion to myself, sitting down and letting God take care of it, is a continual struggle. There’s a time and a place for everything, even for goofy talk and hot opinions. At least when I talk out of turn now, I won’t get a spanking.
Having a wonderful time! Wish you were here.