The randomness that spews forth from my mind


We recently got a puppy. She doesn’t let us sleep as much as we used to. I tend to be the one who wakes up with her early in the morning. A few weeks ago I slept poorly and was in a foul mood in the morning. When the puppy was getting into something she shouldn’t I swatted her away. Unfortunately I did so in anger and with strength. I literally shoved her a few inches in the air and into the nearby wall.

She was wary of me for the rest of the morning. I felt horrible. I tried to “make it up to her” by giving her treats, feeding her breakfast immediately, etc. I felt sick the rest of the morning. This wasn’t the type of person I was. I didn’t hurt dogs.

As someone who was the victim of violence a lot as a child (mostly bullying) I tend to be passive. I don’t like violence and go out of my way not to be aggressive. As I have grown older though and been tired and frustrated and exasperated more times in my life, I have come to realize that the possibility of aggression and violence is there inside me.

My mother was a believer in spanking. For one reason or another she felt it had a place in parenting. I assume this was because she was spanked as a child as well. I am sure she truly thought that I “learned a lesson” when she spanked me, telling me all the while what lesson I should be learning. What I learned was to fear my mother. I don’t think children (and certainly not dogs) learn from the trauma of violence. Your mind is focused on making the pain stop, or just surviving it. Maybe afterward you try to use logic to figure out what you should have done differently, but the likelihood is you are too young and immature to remember that lesson in the future. Young children (like dogs) do many things because they are swept up by emotions and feelings and ideas, not because they have performed some sort of calculus weighing the possible outcomes and coming to a logical decision about the next action.

Although spanking (or beating) is certainly counter-productive for children learning anything useful, it is a release for the parent. It allows them to vent their frustration and tiredness directly on the cause of those things. It is one of the few times that society fully allows them to become violent and inflict pain and suffering on another human being without fear of legal consequences. So in the heat of the moment, a parent will do what feels good to them, even if they are saying “this is going to hurt me more than it is going to hurt you” as they do so.

In actuality I think there is a second thing children learn when they are spanked, beyond the fact that they should fear their parents, they learn that it is okay to hurt their children. A primal lesson is ensconced in their brain and some day in the future when they have a child and they are tired and exasperated and frustrated they will make use of that lesson. They will teach their child the same lessons they learned at the hands of their parents. The same one their child will teach their child.