I was a pretty good kid; didn’t cause much trouble. Neither did my brother. But there were moments when we pushed my mother as far as we could. We were smart-alecky, that’s for sure. So when we finally pushed her far enough, we heard these three frightening words: “Get the Switch.”
For those of you unfamiliar with this type of punishment, getting the switch meant that we had to go out to the tree and bring back a switch for my mother to whip us with. I’m trying to remember which tree we pulled these from. Probably the apple tree out back because it had thin, green branches (switches) that we thought we were so smart to choose. I don’t know why we didn’t realize that the skinnier the switch, the more it stung. We were foolish.
Most of the punishment actually came from the fear and anticipation. The switch made a whooshing sound as my mother flicked it through the air; a sound not unlike an actual whip. That was enough to send my brother and me into fits of remorse and promises that we’d never misbehave again. Now that I think about it, I don’t know if we felt a switch across the backs of our legs more than once. It was never our mother’s intention to hurt us; it was more a way to instill fear – and it worked. For the most part she’d just chase us around a little with it. We knew it would sting if she made contact with our skin, and that was enough.
My kids don’t know how lucky they have it. I’ve never told them to go “Get The Switch.” In fact, they wouldn’t even know what I meant.