Mon. March 29: Kelton’s Paddle

Today’s Proverb:

Proverbs 29:15   The rod of correction imparts wisdom, but a child left to himself disgraces his mother.

It’s a fact that I strongly believe:  Children want discipline. God set it within the human heart that we desire limits.  We’ll fight those limits and stick our toe over the line to see if our parents mean what they say.

In a former life, I spent eight years in the Principal’s Office, nearly all of it as an assistant principal in charge of discipline for 1000 K-12 students.

I learned a great deal and definitely made my share of mistakes, but I never lost my love for young people.  They are “maddenly amazing” and taught me much more than I could ever have taught them.

I discovered a great truth: although they will resent discipline at the moment,  secretly they desire it as long as it is fairly and impartially administered.

I left my administrator’s job in 1992, but I still live in my hometown.  Weekly I see those students and hear about their adult lives and their own challenges in raising children today. (There is some justice in this world.  Many of them are “raising clones of themselves.”)

Invariably, some of the ones that I butted heads with the most are the ones who show the most kindness and appreciation toward me.  Many times they’ll comment,  “At the time I hated your guts, but now I realize what you were doing.”

I smile when I think of Kelton.  He was a man-child with a wonderful personality who was a frequent guest of mine in the office.  My favorite story is how Mr. Caraway sent him to the office for “spitting a spitball.”   Kelton swore that “I opened my mouth and a ‘spit wad’ flew in and he saw me spitting it out.”

I paddled him anyway.

When I left my job in December 1992, I determined to give my trusty paddle to the last student I used it on.  Business was slow that last week and I didn’t use it. (I guess I was in the Christmas mood.)

On the last day as the buses were loading for Christmas vacation I took my paddle with me, determined to use it one last time.  I met Kelton ambling down the hallway. He stopped when he saw what I was holding.

“Kelton, I want to give you something.”

He drew back.

“I’ve going to give you my paddle as a souvenir.”

“Mr. Iles, you’re giving this to me?”


He had tears in his eyes.

That was eighteen years ago.  I was told last week he still has it.

The only people I’ve spanked since then have been my three sons plus a swat or two at grandsons.  I don’t believe a spanking is the answer to every discipline situation but it does have several advantages.  Here are a few:

1. It’s quick, teachable, and done.

2. It should be applied to the behind and no where else.

3.  It should never be done in a fit of anger.  Cool off then apply it.  Making them wait for what’s coming is part of the punishment.

4. You should always explain why discipline is being done.

5.  It should be followed that day by hugs and smiles.


I’ll say this again: discipline imparts wisdom.

Children want and need discipline.

“A child left to themselves” is not a child growing into a healthy adult.

“Lord, help us to apply fair discipline to the children you’ve placed in our care. Amen.”

This is a photo from a 19th Calcasieu River log rafting trip.  Later today I’ll post below the excerpt from A Good Place when Mayo Moore gets the spanking of his life on this trip.

Two  sentence synopsis:  10 year old Mayo, against his father’s orders, sneaks along on a log raft trip to the Lake Charles sawmills.  In this passage, he walks out of the woods and reveals his presence.

Late in the afternoon, they pulled up on my side of the river, lashing the rafts securely before setting up camp.

I figured they were far enough along that Daddy wouldn’t—or couldn’t—send me home, so it was time. The men were

gathered around the fire cooking supper when I walked out of the woods. All movement stopped as they saw me. Unk spoke first,

“By Lazurus’s grave, it’s Mayo.”

One of the other men said, “Son, what in tarnation are you doin’ here? Is somethin’ wrong back home?”

Scared to death, but trying to grin, I said, “I came along to help you fellas.”

Unk said, “Son, you look like you got in a fight with a buzz saw and lost. Where’d all those cuts come from?”

“I been squirrel hunting.”

They all had a good laugh except one—my daddy. He didn’t smile or say a word—just left the campfire, walked over to a

nearby pine, and broke off a stout limb. I knew what was coming, and I’d already counted the cost. As

he came toward me, I pulled off my belt and held it out for him.

He ignored the belt, which I dropped at his feet, and began wearing me out with the pine limb. It stung like crazy as he

thrashed up and down my backside, but I steeled myself to not move or yell.

He whipped me until the limb finally broke. Tossing it aside, he pulled off his own belt and continued tearing my butt up.

The only thing that stopped the whipping was when his britches began to sag. He stepped back, looking me in the face. I knew I’d embarrassed him by showing up like this, but once again, I’d counted the cost—counting the whipping worth it to be on this trip.

His heavy breathing from anger and exertion was the only sound on the creek bank. No one else dared say a word, until Unk broke the silence. “Like father—like son.”

Daddy gave him a hard look, but Unk continued, “Well, Joe—he came by it honest being a stowaway—learnt it from you.”

The other men all laughed in agreement, and even Daddy smiled and I saw a mixture of bewilderment, anger, and

amusement in his eyes. I believe I even detected a hint of pride from how I’d taken my whipping like a man.

“Son, was it worth it?” he asked.

“Yes sir, I expected it.”

“Well, we’ll see if it’s worth it. There’s a lot of this trip left.

We’ll see.”

Copyright 2009 Creekbank Stories and Curt Iles


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