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Monday, July 20, 2015



I can't think of anyone who enjoys Father's Day more than good ol' Dad. Wait- yes I can: the kids. The third Sunday in June was the one day I could be sure that Dad would be otherwise occupied, and too busy to focus on whatever it was I screwed up that day. Dad was something of a disciplinarian, and the something that he used to discipline most was ME. His child-rearing mostly revolved around my rear end.

Corporal punishment was in fashion back then, especially if your kid was a Major disappointment or a General pain in the derriere, pardon my French. Sometimes we were put on the rack or drawn and quartered, at least that's the way I remember it. Dads aren't around as much as Moms are, so it seems like their punishments are administered in concentrated form.

There were no "time outs' back then, which is too bad. It's the perfect opportunity to take a breather and discuss strategy. Then when the fight resumes, you're energized and clear on the game plan. If I played things correctly I would hear the magic words, "GO TO YOUR ROOM!" You mean that place where all my toys are? Okay, but it's not necessary to raise your voice.

There were other methods of torture, such as sensory deprivation. I distinctly remember being sent to bed with no ice cream for instance. There was water torture, where I was compelled to take a bath even though I could see no evidence of dirt on my body. There was The Chair- I distinctly remember being told to sit in it and keep my mouth shut. I was able to defeat the punishment by coaxing a variety of sounds from other parts of my body, sometimes in Morse code.

My dad was particularly obsessed with me learning how to ride a bicycle. Perhaps he figured that with this skill I could get farther away from him in much less time. His style of instruction was to find a place with a hill and no witnesses, and push me down it atop the bicycle until I reached the bottom either on two wheels or a stretcher. Another not so fond memory was him teaching me how to take a pill- why that was so important to him I have no idea, but I must say that aspirin did come in handy, especially after the bicycle incident.

I was coerced into indentured servitude at an early age, pushing a lawn mower in defiance of child labor laws. I was made to take out the garbage and perform other tasks of drudgery. Later on he forced me to attend an expensive university and left me there unsupervised until I emerged with a college degree. In his insidious way, using advanced mind control techniques, he filled my unsophisticated head with ideas like "work ethic" and "values." Concepts that I still have not been able to shake off.

I don't have any kids so I take great pride in disciplining my dog. He only sits or stays when there is nothing good to steal from the laundry hamper. I assume he sell these things on Ebay because we never see them again. I can't even get him to mow the lawn; he eats a fair quantity of grass, but it never has a happy ending, trust me. I have no way to pass along what I got from my father, and I'm including asthma in that.

So all you Dads of Somers: don't make the same mistakes your fathers did. Think up brand new ways to make your kids think you are making their lives miserable. And the day they realize that they are perfectly capable of making their own lives miserable without you helping is the day you will know that they have finally grown up. In the meantime, my lawn still needs mowing.

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