Friday, January 9, 2009

Is spanking ever okay?

David was very late weaning from the breast. There may be some who would argue that this is the reason he was high functioning. There are others who might argue that this is the reason he was autistic. Sigh. I would argue that David loved to cuddle and breast feeding made it even better. At night, David would come to our room to feed and fall asleep next to his mother. Breast milk is sweet. The repeated overnight effect of the milk was that there were visible cavities in his teeth. He had dental work done under anesthesia and when he woke up he had metal caps over his incisors.

One day we discovered what looked like mouse bites being taken out of the insulation on the cords of our electric blanket. My daughter, Lisa, reported that David was biting into the cord. I could not be sure that David would survive a bite into a live wire. Fortunately, the blankets had been off when David bit into them but if he bit into other cords or if he bit into these when the blanket was on it would be a death sentence. The metal caps would send 110 volts through the dental nerve straight to his brain. Even if he survived, who knows what would be left of him.

I took David up to my room and showed him the blankets electric cord that he had bitten. The electric blanket had both sides unplugged and left in place. If David was to continue biting electric cords, I wanted him to bite cords that I knew were unplugged. The cord had bare copper strands showing where the insulation had been bitten away by his teeth. I explained in short sentences, simple yet adamant language, "Don't bite. Not allowed. Don't touch." In a flash of recalcitrance, David stuck the blanket's electric cord into his mouth. Just as fast as I could move, I had David over my knee and spanked him hard enough that it hurt even through the diaper. Just as fast I picked him back up and brought his face three inches from mine.

"Never again!" I growled. David was shocked. I had never done this before and I watched him break down and cry.

I did not like myself for doing what I did and yet I could not allow David to continue to bite electrical cords. The spanking worked. David never did it again. But I see that as being because David had never been spanked before. Looking back, I will not apologize for it. The cost of doing nothing would have been too high and it would have been irreversible.

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