Malorie stood frantically looking out of the living room window awaiting Deck’s arrival. He said he would be home in five minutes when she called him crying hysterically; screaming he needed to turn around and return home. Deck had just left for work ten minutes prior for a 9am meeting with Derkowitz and Brandtz Ventures; a meeting scheduled two weeks prior that was sure to upgrade their lives. Malorie felt horrible considering Deck was already running a little behind because she couldn’t keep her hands off of him as he tried to dry off and get dressed. There was something about seeing Deck in the wee hours of the morning, draped in a towel, smelling of Calvin Klein cologne that turned Malorie into an insatiable love sick fanatic and he loved every second of it. Ten years of marriage and she still thought he was the sexiest man alive and she loved that he still looked at her the same way he lovingly looked at her when they first married. By all accounts they were a team.
Soon after marrying, they thought it best for Malorie to quit her job and stay home with the kids while Deck concentrated all of his efforts on growing their software company. This was the day, the plan they’d put in place well over five years ago would come to fruition. It was a decision she now pondered with regret. When it came to the kids, Malorie ran her home as she did her former position as Project Manager. Everything had to be in order, in its proper place; structured and disciplined down to the kids. Everyone that knew her, knew Malorie ran a tight ship; inflexible and rigid is what they called her behind her back.
When Malorie saw Deck’s white Range Rover pull into the driveway, she bolted for the door knocking over the ficus tree he’d given her as a just because I love you gift. Deck jumped out of the truck, leaving the keys in the ignition and ran toward the house. Before Malorie could open the door, Deck pushed his way in and yelled, “Where is he? What have you done?” They both raced to the back bedroom, Malorie leading the way, not saying a word. From the doorway, Deck could see five year old Dallas lying on the floor adjacent to the bathroom, not moving. Deck ran over to his son, knelt down and placed his head on his chest to see if he was breathing. He grabbed his tiny arm and checked for a pulse. Unable to hold back the tears once he confirmed Dallas was alive and breathing, he held his son in his arms. He turned to see a look of horror on Malorie’s face; her once stunning dark chocolate skin appeared to be a pasty pale and she was as white as a ghost. Deck wondered if the despondent woman eyeing him was the same woman he once knew and loved. Too him, she wasn’t; she looked more like a photographic image of evil; wearing a white sheet, gripping a thick black leather belt plucked from page sixty five of a black history book. Malorie was trembling and her voice quivered uncontrollably as she started to explain what had occurred in the short time he’d been gone. “He, he, didn’t want to take a bath”, she said in between sobs. “He insisted on taking a shower. I didn’t want water on the floor. He was being disobedient”, she continued. “It’s Tuesday, it’s not on the schedule – it’s not on the schedule”, she repeated in a faint whisper.
Deck couldn’t believe what he was hearing. “All of this because the boy didn’t want to take a bath. He’s a baby for God’s sake”, he screamed. He knew Malorie was a control freak and a stickler for rules and discipline but this was beyond anything he could’ve ever imagined. Malorie began to lose her footing as the sight of her baby boy, lying helplessly on the floor suddenly unearthed memories buried deep within her. Memories she’d repressed as a result of a pain she’d never talked about. She was suddenly inundated with memories from her childhood that threatened to rob her of her sanity. Rising to the surface with a vengeance were memories of countless spankings at the hands of her father; prefaced with a speech that always included the scripture, “spare the rod; spoil the child”. The spankings were endless and the justification was always, “it’s for your own good”.
Her young cries for mercy, went unanswered as she remembered being beaten with leather belts while sometimes nude and wet. Her prayers for God to save her went unanswered as Malorie endured spanking after spanking well into her teenage years. A report card with all A’s and one C was worthy of one of the worst spankings she could remember. Average was unacceptable in her house. She was born to be great and anything less than that was unacceptable. She didn’t have the courage to tell her Dad that she didn’t understand the curriculum. Any questions or pushback was a sign of disobedience or disrespect that was handled with physical correction immediately. After all, she had to be taught discipline and respect for authority and according to her father, extension cords, switches, belts or anything he could quickly get his hands on was the only way a hard headed child like her could learn. The punishment for not catching onto potty training fast enough was ten licks on the legs with a switch she was forced to fetch from a tree she’d helped her dad plant in the backyard. And the more foul the smell the more licks she received. As much as she despised the degradation she’d suffered; as it turned out, it would be the same potty training method she implemented with her kids.
She and Deck disagreed on many occasions about her disciplinary tactics but Malorie held fast to the belief that she got spanked and she turned out okay. But she wasn’t okay and neither were her kids. She no longer wondered if her use of corporal punishment as a teaching tool was the reason her seven year old son Dylan was so aggressive with other kids; she knew the answer. With every spanking, she’d methodically taught him how to be a bully. He’d been indoctrinated to believe that using brute force was the way to get people to do whatever you wanted. And yet when Dylan did as he was taught, he was spanked for being bad. Dallas flinched in fear every time Malorie came near him even if it was to give him a hug. The harsh reality of how she was raised had just slapped her in the face. Granted she was taught but it wasn’t what her Dad thought he was teaching. She learned that a hard head makes a soft bottom but it also hardens the heart and breaks the spirit of a child. She learned that God was unmerciful and didn’t answer prayers. She learned that she would never be able to live up to God’s standards; so she didn’t even try. She stopped attending church the day she moved out of her parents’ home. She learned that respect and fear were synonymous but somehow fear garnered more desirable results and she used it to her advantage. Every lash, every hit and every punch had stripped something from her she could never get back. She was a wounded child now inflicting wounds on her own children. It was what had been passed down to her from generation to generation like fine china and now it was her job to pass it on to future generations to come. Like everything else in her life; she’d done her job well.
Malorie, unable to bear the weight of what she’d been carrying all of those years fell to her knees and began to weep. The promise she’d made as a child to never spank her children was a promise she hadn’t kept. She’d spanked Dallas so bad because he wanted to take a shower, he’d fainted. “Oh my God”, she cried out in disbelief. She knew she needed help and needed to break the cycle but she didn’t know how or where to even begin. The belief that spanking was the only way kids could learn was a belief so deeply rooted; she was afraid to challenge her own beliefs. Malorie suddenly felt an overwhelming urge to pray but how could she, she hadn’t spoken to God in years and hadn’t wanted to up to this point. She had imagined God to be just like her own father; unmerciful. A father whose rules and regulations, do’s and don’ts trumped love. God was to be feared, reverenced and never questioned. Malorie kneeled down on the floor beside Deck and Dallas, lowered her head and began to pray. Before she could say amen, she heard Dallas whimper. Dallas was conscious, crying and reaching for her. Malorie grabbed him and squeezed him in her arms tightly. He placed his tiny arms around her and began softly patting her on the back; reassuring her that everything was okay. It was exactly what she needed. His gentle pats spoke of a love and mercy she’d been seeking her entire life. The gentleness with which he touched her taught her a lesson about love and compassion she’d never known. At that moment, she knew God had not only heard her but had also answered her prayers. With tears, Malorie thanked God for an invaluable lesson that had been taught to her by a child who by all accounts she’d just brutalized. She kissed her son and promised that the legacy of brutality in the name of love would stop with her; it was a promise she would keep.