The Root Beer Boys
Chapter Fourteen - Dad's input
Here's how I fit into all of this and what I learned from it.
I had gone to the West coast for a week-long Estate Planning seminar and got home about 4 in the afternoon. I was tired, and I was looking forward to spending time with my family.
But I knew from the minute I walked in the front door and set my suitcase on the floor that something was wrong. Wayne is NEVER in the TV room at that time of day. His mom won't let the boys watch TV until after dinner.
And Andy was alone in his bedroom, just lying on his bed. Definitely not my son. Must have been somebody else's.
Then the minute I hit the kitchen, my wife grabs my hand and drags me outside to the patio. She filled me in on everything that had happened, all of it learned by listening to our sons fight with each other over the past week. Seems Andy had anal sex with this new kid, Bobby Monroe.
I almost flipped! I'm not a patient man by nature, and when I heard that Andy had done something I had specifically forbidden him and Wayne from doing, I was ready to beat him senseless. But as we talked about it, I began to clam down. >From what my wife had overheard, it had evidently been an accident, raging teen hormones out of control and all that stuff. But that didn't excuse his behavior. I'd still have to talk with him and maybe ground him until he was 30 something.
Then she told me about Wayne's black eye. Before she could tell me what happened, I jumped up and went in to where Wayne was sitting watching TV. I just walked over to him, tilted his head back and stared at his face. As I looked at the bruise on his forehead, which was really ugly, and the black eye, I felt the anger rise up in me almost like bile. I could feel my heartbeat increase and my face turn red.
I was so angry at Andy for hitting his brother I could hardly stand still. But I forced myself to do just that. I knew I couldn't leave Wayne until I had calmed down. But as I looked at his sweet face, I saw fear. And I saw Andy, too, in Wayne's eyes. I can't describe it adequately, but I got the impression Wayne wasn't afraid for himself. He was afraid for Andy. He saw the anger on my face and must have thought I was going to do something terrible.
And that made me so sad. And so disappointed in Andy for what he had done. I could feel myself start to tear up. The anger I could handle. But the sadness and disappointment threatened to overwhelm me, so I turned around and left the room. When I got outside I went into a tirade, using my wife as a sounding board to vent my frustrations and my anger. She 's good at that, being my sounding board.
I paced and talked, talked and paced. I compared Andy to myself, matching what he had done with Bobby to what I had done as a young man. And here's where I learned something so amazing. As I was venting, hollering, complaining about my son and life in general, I said, "How could he have done this to Wayne? Why couldn't he control his hormones, his sex drive? Do you suppose it's hereditary? Do you suppose I passed along a gene that makes it impossible for him to say no to sex?"
My wife just looked at me with this dumbfounded expression on her face.
"What?" I said, staring back at her. "What are you looking at?"
I was still angry, and I didn't like the look on her face.
"Dan. Did you hear what you just said?"
"Yeah! I asked if I could have passed on some gene or other that made him this much like me!"
With a tear trickling down her face, she said to me, just above a whisper, "Wouldn't that be a bit difficult? Did you forget Andy's adopted?"
I don't think I ever knew until that moment just how much I loved him. And the pain in my heart got even worse. Because it was the pain of sadness and disappointment in one who meant so much to me. That's why I had gotten so angry. How could someone I loved so much hurt someone else I loved just as much?
I practically collapsed into a yard chair and just sat there for several minutes.
I knew that I had to do something to make the significance of Andy's behavior something he would never forget. He had to know how his actions had betrayed his lover and how much he had disappointed me. But I knew I could never hurt him seriously. I could never lift my hand against him in anger. As I thought about it, I decided that grounding wasn't enough. Keeping him from going to driver's ed wasn't enough. It had to be something immediate and impressive.
Finally, I decided on a course of action that I thought would work. It would result in some physical pain as well as emotional pain, but I was sure it would leave a big impression with no negative long term results. I would treat hi as a small child who has misbehaved. I would give him a spanking. On his naked behind.
I decided on that for two reasons. I intended to use my hand, not a board or a brush, so that I could know the level of physical pain and control it. That would be most effective with skin on skin. The second reason was for the emotional effect, the embarrassment it would cause him. He hadn't been spanked like that since he was in grade school. I figured being humiliated would make a definite impression on him.
I thought I was going to teach my son a lesson. As it turned out, I think I learned an even greater one.
When I had calmed down, I went in and confronted Andy. We talked for awhile about what he had done and how it had affected the entire family. Then I explained to him that his behavior deserved more than just words. When I told him he was going to get a spanking, he actually started to smirk a little. But when I told him to drop his pants and his underpants, he turned red as a beet and started to protest. I insisted and he pleaded. Then I threatened and he finally gave in.
By the time his clothes were around his ankles, he was crying. I knew the embarrassment part had kicked in. I hadn't seen him naked in a long time, and his current situation just made it worse, pants and underwear around his ankle, shirt still on and hanging just below his crotch but not hiding much. When he finally laid himself across my lap with his behind facing the door, it was actually somewhat embarrassing to me, too. He had a cute butt for a 16 year old, but I wasn't used to seeing it this way.
I started spanking his bare behind, the smacks sounding a lot louder than I remembered. If my hand stung a little on one smack, I increased the pressure on the next. If it stung too much on one, I lightened up on the next. But I made sure each one hurt, and I knew they did by his cries. Now don't get me wrong, I'm not into child abuse at all. But my dad spanked me, and I saw no reason not to spank my son.
What happened next, though, taught me a lesson I had not expected. I hadn't given Andy even as many whacks as his age when Wayne appeared at the door. . . Crying. . . At least as hard as Andy was. I saw him glance at Andy's bare, red behind and thought he must be satisfied with what was happening. But before I could give Andy whack number 12, Wayne rushed in and grabbed my arm in its upraised position.
"Stop it, Dad! You're hurting him!" he cried, tears streaming down his face.
I was startled and shocked.
"Why should I stop? Don't you think he deserves this?" I practically yelled in anger and frustration.
Wayne's response taught me an important lesson about love. In a voice barely above a whisper, a voice choked by tears and heavy with emotion, he said, "Don't hurt him Dad. He's my brother."
And he laid himself across Andy's body.
I sat there in stunned silence with my boys lying across my lap and cried with them for several minutes before I could extricate myself and leave them to themselves.
I think we all grew up a little that day.
... to be continued
© 2001 by Dan. All rights reserved.