In our household, “Just wait until your dad gets home” was tantamount to hearing the judge pronounce a sentence, and it wasn’t “community service.” From the time we were toddlers up to about third grade, a swift swat on the backside from mom’s hand was quite enough to make us see the error of our ways. But run just once, and it was “Wait until your dad gets home.” More often than not, the actual punishment for whatever sin it was you’d committed was not nearly as painful as waiting.
Since dad, as most dads in my home town, arrived from work shortly after 5:00 p.m., and dinner was PROMPTLY at 5:30, there was no time for chit-chat or heavy discussion. That had to wait until we had finished eating and the dishes had been washed, dried and put away (no “air drying” of dishes in our house!) And dad got the most mileage possible out of the delay, asking everyone else, “And what did you do today?” The omission was obvious.
Only rarely was a crime so heinous as to bring dad home from work early and I KNEW I’d seen my very last day on earth when I opened the front door that day and DAD was sitting right there. On the sofa. In the classic pose, one knee folded into an “L,” resting on top of the other.
Darryl Averitt had THE best collection of 45 rpm records: all the newest vinyl and a snazzy record player and WOW, could he ever dance! So, Darryl and his friend Pat Rutherford talked Babs Rogers and me into cutting afternoon classes. We walked over to Darryl’s, danced for a couple of hours and left for home as the last bell at the high school rang. It had never occurred to us that the secretary at school might notice we hadn’t been on the attendance sheets turned in after every class. Now, Darryl had pleaded not feeling well, so his mom had called the school to excuse him all day, and their phone never rang. But they called the other parents. And mom called dad. And dad came home. And waited.
Being grounded for life wasn’t as bad as it sounds. Our transgression took place sometime in May and school was out early in June, and so was I. Mom had decided she couldn’t put up with having a teenager hanging around the house all summer.
Well, “dumb” as I was, my younger sister Jami went one step beyond. She took a hike of a couple of miles from our house out to the stables, saddled up and rode her horse right into town (the back way), waving at all of her friends sitting in class at Pueblo Jr. High School. The school didn’t call, but mom heard about Jami’s wild ride well before she got the horse back to the barn, unsaddled and walked home again. I don’t know that she went unscathed but dad did give her a new truck and a horse trailer so, if she ever decides to cut school again, she won’t have to walk to the stables. Come to think of it, I do recall that she graduated some years ago. And has owned several new trucks since. So dad, ultimately, did get the last laugh: have you looked at the price of a Ford 450 lately? I think Jami paid more for her truck than I paid for my house!
I’m not taking away from the single moms who have raised great kids with little-to-no help, but I often think a lot of things would be different, and better, if more of them could say, “Just wait until your dad gets home!” Thanks, dad.