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My Son Got a Spanking and I Learned a Valuable Lesson

My son is doing well now but he survived a somewhat traumatic event in the first grade. As he related the story to me, he was not completely focused on the assigned task, some sort of in-class assignment he was supposed to be completing at his desk. When asked by the teacher why he wasn't doing the work as instructed, he replied nonchalantly, "I guess that's just the way I was made." The teacher interpreted his response as flagrant disrespect and he was summarily and immediately escorted to the principal's office where he received two or three whacks with a paddle. [see below]

Of course, I was notified by the principal and heard his side of the story. First graders simply couldn't be allowed to be disrespectful to their teacher. Brian's version was somewhat different. He was simply trying to explain why he had difficulty focusing on the given task. It was all about genetics. That was how he was made. In terms of nature or nurture, this was obviously, even to a six year old boy, the result of his inborn nature.

There are perhaps several lessons to be learned from this experience. In the interest of brevity, and as I hope to keep your attention, let me mention one. We start believing that change is difficult or perhaps even impossible at an early age. The experiences we have, even the casual comments of others take root quickly and shape our sense of identity from our earliest years. We come to believe "that's just the way I'm made" and therefore change is out of the question. Call it destiny, fate, a handicap, or some other obstacle, we're easily persuaded that our current circumstance is our inevitable path.

One of the biggest challenges we face is to believe that we can continue to grow and learn and change at every age. Yes, you may have been made that way but the truth is you have the ability to remake yourself. You've been made that way too.

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