The switch always kept us in line
I grew up with an old fashioned grandmother.
She was the kind of woman who prepared a homecooked meal every night. She snuck me an extra soda pop. She made me milkshakes whenever I asked.
She took me to church every Sunday. She tortured me with every “at home” remedy from days gone by.
And...her switch for us kids was her favorite companion.
I still see a good switch every now and then. But not like those grandmothers had when I was coming up. Every elderly lady within the town limits of Monticello had a long, skinny switch with a few leaves at the end of them.
They took them everywhere. Maw Maw carried hers in her purse. She placed in on the dash of her car on every road trip. She left it in the purse holder of every shopping cart. She even carried that thing in between the pages of Proverbs inside her Bible at church.
Sometimes only a quick shake of it would make us stand at attention. If you were acting up, all Maw Maw had to do was make a quick move towards that switch and you straightened up real quick.
I don’t like to let on like my Maw Maw tortured me with a switch, but it was most certainly her favorite form of discipline. And, believe me, it worked.
I can remember the day when my cousins and I thought we would outsmart my Maw Maw by destroying her beloved switch.
My great aunt had dropped her own grandkids off at the house so she could take her husband to a doctor’s appointment. The two boys didn’t mind staying with Maw Maw. I was a tomboy and would hold my own during any wrestling match or exploration in the back yard.
But, like many Southern families, they were open to any and all punishment from any other close kin. In other words...they were fair game.
It was a hot, summer day when our scheme began to brew in our little minds. We had just been spanked actually for knocking on the neighbors door and running away.
“I hate that switch,” Chris said, rubbing his leg. “Granny has got one too. That’s all they do is switch folks all day.”
“No kidding,” I replied. “Maw Maw tried to get me the other day because she forgot that I talked back to her at breakfast.”
“Well, I don’t know,” Junior said. “I would rather get it over with than something else.”
“What do you know,” Chris asked, with a sneer. “You’re the favorite anyway. You barely get touched. Meanwhile, they beat Jamie and me.”
I shook my head in agreement.
It was then that Chris and I decided to steal Maw Maw’s switch and destroy it. We would even try to do the same with his Granny’s switch next time.
Maw Maw was on the couch, taking her daily afternoon nap. Chris and I eased up to the kitchen counter and snatched that switch as fast as we could.
All three of us raced out the back door and made our way behind the barn. As if we had pulled off a great mission, we celebrated.
Jumping in the air, patting each other on the back...we were unsure of what to do with it.
And then Chris just started snapping the switch in two. Breaking it off piece by piece, it took him a minute to finally destroy the slender stick of pain.
We never heard her coming. We never saw her shadow. But Maw Maw came around the corner like a Major Leaguer stealing homeplate.
Junior just fell to the ground and started crying. I admit that I abandoned everybody because I took off running.
Maw Maw’s elastic arm caught Chris by the neck of his shirt. I am not sure what happened because I never looked back but I heard his cries of anguish.
I stayed away as long as I could. But when I heard Maw Maw bellowing my name, I knew it was time to face the music.
When I made my way to the back porch, Chris stood by Maw Maw with a red face and the sniffles. Junior wouldn’t even look me in the eye, but I can tell he was let off easy. Besides, it was Chris who tore the switch up.
“Well, the three amigos here thought they would outsmart me,” Maw Maw said. “When you ran out giggling, the screen door slammed shut. I woke right up. Came outside to find ya’ll making a fire pile here behind the barn.”
“Get her good,” Chris yelled, looking at me. “It was her idea.”
“Get real, creep,” I replied. “You always try to drag us into stuff.”
Maw Maw broke it up before Chris and I starting rolling in the dirt.
Then she told us to go pick our own switch. I hated when she did that.
As the sun went down that summer day, we accepted our defeat. Maw Maw had won the battle. The switch was returned to its throne.
And the world kept turning.