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Opinion: Monkey see, monkey do

When I was a youngster the phrase “Monkey see, monkey do,” applied to many of the things I did, often getting into mischief because of it. When I was about 10 years old, I saw a television program where a lady got the attention of a young gentleman she fancied by dropping her handkerchief.

Thinking everything I saw on TV had to be true, I tried that little maneuver while walking by a classmate I thought was very cute. Needless to say, my experiment crashed and burned when the fella I was hoping to court said “Hey Hill, you dropped your snot rag!”

Do children copy their behavior from the actions they see in movies, television programs or on the Internet? If so, I think it would be refreshing if the children portrayed on sit-coms and cartoons were better behaved and more respectful. More like Lisa Simpson and less like Bart the brat.

Kids throwing tantrums in public place like grocery or variety stores affect me like fingernails on a chalkboard. Older children who bedevil their younger siblings while the parents are oblivious is another pet peeve.

Growing up my brothers and I knew that if we acted up in public our parents would make us pay for it when we got home. Mom tried to reason with us and shame us into behaving. My father on the other hand was of the “spare the rod, spoil the child,” school of parenting.

However, I can count on both hands the times my father issued corporal punishment to me. Each and every time stands out vividly in my mind. He didn’t have to hit us very often because we knew he wouldn’t hesitate if we “got too big for our britches!”

Another thing that irritated my dad to no end was for him to hear of one of our mischievous escapades on the street. Delivering milk house-to-house for Quality Dairy he always heard the latest gossip in town. Heaven help us if one of his children were the topic of said gossip.

People had no compunction about telling our parents if they saw us getting into trouble. The term “I’m going to call your father,” was enough to strike terror into our hearts and minds.

I remember one time my friends and I were at Madera Valley Inn at last call. I was about 19 years old. Because the MVI lounge served food, minors could be in the bar, as long as the bartender didn’t serve them alcohol.

As I was leaving, I saw that a Quality Dairy milkman Paul Toschi, was sitting at the bar having a cup of coffee before he went to load his truck for the day’s route. As quickly as I could the following day, I told my dad about it in case Toschi happened to recognized me and mentioned it to my dad.

Parents today have to worry about a visit from child protective services if they so much as lift a hand to their child.

There really should be a “fly swatter,” exclusion rule that allows parents to spank their kids with a fly swatter. It would make a lot of noise and really get the young one’s attention. My favorite aunt, Nada Kirk, had the dreaded red paddle to swat us with. It started out its life as one of those paddleballs on a rubber band.

Looking back, I didn’t get swatted as often as I deserved it.

The almost one year we lived in Murfreesboro, Tenn. I got swatted by my homeroom teacher Mrs. Grubbs. She had a large wooden paddle. She would have you hold out your hand and she would smack the palm with her paddle. I don’t think I had ever been hit by a teacher before.

I wasn’t one of those kids who went home and whined that a teacher had been mean to me. If I had I would have been in trouble at home too, instead of just at school!

There is no one on earth I love more than my Aunt Nada and yet she paddled my behind more than any other adult in my formative years. The threat of the “red paddle,” was far more effective than actually getting hit with it.

Kids know there really isn’t anything their parents can do to make them behave. If I had that sort of power as a child, I would have been even more incorrigible. I had two older brothers which meant I felt I had to be twice as bad to be half as good!

One more parenting trick my father employed will no doubt horrify modern parents. When we were toddlers, my dad would sit us on his lap while reading the newspaper. In his hand he held the always present rubber band that came on the paper. While holding the child my dad would rattle the paper. When the baby grabbed for it, my father would issue a very stern “No!” and pop us with the rubber band. Rather like Pavlov’s dog we learned what “no” meant and the consequences of disobeying that order.

I’m sure many of our readers are now horrified by the idea that a grown man would torment a toddler this way. Guess what? It worked. We had glass items on low shelves and my mother never worried about the safety of her knick-knacks. From a very young age we knew the meaning of no and what would happen if we disobeyed.

Another strong memory from childhood is how jealous I always felt if my dad held another little girl on his lap. He was my daddy and that should have been me.

The last time that green-eyed monster reared its ugly head I was about 25 and my dad was holding his granddaughter who was maybe four yeas old. It was nothing I had any control over, and I just laughed at myself because old habits die hard.

Long days and pleasant nights, have a blessed weekend.

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Readers may contact Tami Jo Nix by emailing or following @TamiJoNix on Twitter.



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