When I was a kid, if my dad threatened to take off his belt, it only meant one thing; someone was going to get a spanking if they didn’t behave. Obviously, this odious threat was never lobbed at me, angelic child that I was, but I do recall hearing the threat made to my mischievous older brothers who would have done well to follow my saintly ways. That’s how I remember it and I’m sticking to it. At any rate, it has been years since I have heard anyone use the phrase.
Until about six months ago, Reina would usually sit through a meal if we were eating out at a restaurant. She might get antsy after she finished eating, but she was content to stay put as long as she was engaged with the task of tucking into a plate of macaroni and cheese or a nice bowl of broccoli. But lately, she’s been wandering from the table, even while in the midst of her first slice of pizza or stir-fried noodles. What’s a parent to do? Clearly we have been remiss in nipping this habit in the bud.
Last weekend, we dined out at Made in Beijing, a Chinese restaurant in the Lido area, with some good friends and their two children. Since our daughter was leaving the table to wander the empty restaurant from time to time, her little friend, Ariana, was getting up to do the same, much to the frustration of her parents who wanted young Ariana to sit and eat.
It all came to a head when her father threatened to take off his belt. Naturally, I thought he was joking until he actually got up form the table, slid his belt off with a maniacal look in his eye, folded it over and said, “Right, that’s it.” To my growing sense of apprehension, he scooped up his daughter, who burst into tears, and took her back to the chair for what I fully expected was going to be a barbaric display of corporal punishment. I began to rack my brain for ways of intervening on behalf of the poor child when the father plucked her down in the chair and used his belt to strap her to the seat. It was hilarious; everyone burst into laughter and even Ariana’s tears of protest morphed into the giggles. After that, Reina managed to sit still – at least for a little while.