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How To Break a Fly Swatter

Phyllis and Linda with Granny.

Before I start, I want to make something clear: I was spanked as a child.

Yes, I was.

I can see some of you gasping, eyebrows through your hairlines, at the horror. Those who know me may be noddng and thinking, “Ah, so that explains a few things.”


Herb and Eva were fair parents — exceptionally fair when I consider the demands on their time. The both worked hard to keep food on the table and clothes on our backs, never mind raising four (and then five**) girls. But sometimes we did things that earned us a spanking.

For instance, there was the day I came in from making mud pies. When I opened the back door, I liked the feeling of the smooth knob under my muddy hands so I proceeded to smear mud on each of the doorknobs inside. I got a spanking. That was fair.

How could you spank these little cuties? ♥️

Once, when I was about four, I cut off one of Linda’s braids. That’s braid, singular, and there were two braids to start with. I got a spanking. That was very fair.

Now that you see where I’m coming from, let’s get on with the story.

Anyone who has ever been around small children knows how hard it is to settle them to sleep in the summer when it just won’t get dark. Couple those long evenings with kids who are eight to ten years old, an age when they need to be in bed fairly early but can’t fall asleep as quickly as the smaller ones, and you have trouble.

Trouble on this particular evening came in the form of me and Linda when we were at that exact in-between age. It was a muggy evening and not a breath of air moved through the open windows. Linda and I, who shared a bed, were wide awake and we got talking and carrying on. The closed door at the bottom of the stairs gave us a false sense of sound barrier between us and the parents so we weren’t very quiet.

“Girls!” We jumped when the stair door opened and Mom called up in a loud whisper, so as not to awaken the younger two. “Settle down!”

Usually that was all it took. We were tired and we knew the consequences if we didn’t obey. But that night we either forgot, or we just didn’t care. Our noise continued, and Mom called up a couple more times. I’m sure the poor woman was just too tired to climb the stairs and give us our just deserts at that points, but by now we were on a roll. One of us found a small rubber ball and we began tossing it back and forth. As luck and gravity would have it, the ball eventually dropped onto the floor and that’s when our mother flew into action. When she arrived in our room we could see through the dimness that she was holding a fly swatter. It was the kind with a tough plastic swatter and a flimsy plastic handle.

“I’ve told you, and told you, and told you two to settle down.” She sounded exasperated, and although we couldn’t really see her face, I’m sure she was glaring at  us. “Roll over,” she commanded. “Maybe a spanking will help you remember to do as you’re told.”

We didn’t move.

“Roll. Over.” There was no doubting now how serious she was.

Linda and I rolled over, each trying to move more slowly than the other in order to avoid getting the first swat. I don’t know who actually got it first, nor do I remember who was the first to giggle, but one of us did. And then, just like a contagious yawn, the other started laughing too. Of course that laughing tipped the scales for my usually gentle and long-suffering mother, and she started swatting. Those swats rained down on our behinds, and we continued to laugh. And the harder we laughed, the faster Mom swatted.

And then it broke. The plastic handle on the fly swatter wasn’t meant to swat flies as big as us, and it broke right in half. Mom picked up both pieces of the swatter and went downstairs. Linda and I stopped laughing and went to sleep.

Mom with my husband, Murray.

We never spoke of that night again until years later, when we got to reminiscing. I doubt my mother is proud of that moment, but I sure do understand how we drove her to it. And these days we laugh even harder in the re-telling than we did that night.

We love you, Mom!

** Another story for another day.


Phyllis writes words: words for stories, and words for books. Phyllis writes words for blogs too.

4 thoughts on “How To Break a Fly Swatter

  1. Hello Phyllis
    I laughed right out loud as I read this one!!

    Yes Martin and I were both spanked on occasions although I was a pretty good child for the most part and it was my younger sister who really tried the patience of my parents.

    Once Martin got too tall for his mom, if he tried her patience to the limit, she would chase him up the stairs and hit him over the head with a cookie sheet as they went!

    The wooden spoon was the method of threat I used on my gang and in one instance a preliminary bang on the table to show that something would be administered to them if they continued with their nonsense also resulted in it being broken in half and much laughter coming from the guilty parties.

  2. Oh my goodness – sometimes I think we had the same childhood! This was a fabulous story and reminded me of the perils faced by my younger sister and me. We shared a bedroom and on those nights when my mother or father had had more than they could take of our failure to settle down up the stairs they would tromp. I never felt the sting of the small spanking we could get because the sight of my little sister eyes wide as saucers, hand over mouth waiting for the door to open always started me off. Luckily, my bed was farthest from the door so I got to watch her scoot all over the bed and around the room in an attempt to outrun the inevitable. That just made my giggling worse. By the time it was my turn I was so hysterical with laughter that more often than not the angry parent just gave up and went downstairs to pour themselves a hefty drink.

  3. My mom used a floppy rubber bottomed slipper when we were really bad! Not very often since I was such an angel!

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