Back in the 80s I was a young buck in elementary school. I went to a catholic school called JFK and like most catholic schools, it sucked.
Now I’m not going to say I was a terrible student, but I wasn’t the best either. I was hit in the hand with a ruler just once by our Nun, but once was all i needed. School in the 80s were different times. Your parents couldn’t just hop on a computer and see your grades on a portal. Teachers couldn’t email or text your parent about your behaviors or being tardy. Hell, the only way they could get in touch with you or your parents was to call the home phone. Hopefully you were lucky enough to get the phone before they did.
Every night my mom would ask me if I had homework. Nope, no homework today. Really, who wants to do homework or study when you could turn on WGN and watch the Cubs with your dad? We weren’t allowed to do anything when we got home except do homework. Again, for some strange reason, I never had homework.. well, at least i didn’t bring it home. So as I’m sitting watching the Wonder Years, staring at my crush Winnie Cooper, in the back of my young mind all I could think of is the homework that wasn’t at home.
Let’s fast forward to parent teacher conferences. While my dad and mom were talking to my teachers, i was at home waiting to hear the deathly sound of the door unlocking, knowing the ass whoopin that was about to come. And come that ass whoopin sure did. Not only did I get acquainted with my dads belt, foot, hand, Nintendo (yes he got me with a Nintendo lol) but i was also blessed by his presences in school.
“Bobby your dad is here” is what i heard as I was coming out of the cafeteria. And wouldn’t you know it, there was my old man, standing in the doorway at the top of the steps. Now for you young kids, parents were allowed to be in the school to handle their kids in the 80s. We didn’t have a “safe space” like you snowflakes have now. Our “safe space” was close to a friend so when your parent wacked you, they would hit your friend by accident too.
My dad sat next to me in class. You’d think that teacher could recognize the SOS i was coding with the blink of my eyes. Nope, this is the 80s, the teachers taught and parents were parents. Anyways, it came time to turn in our homework. I could say that my dog ate it, but my dad would be there to say we don’t have a fucking dog Bob Jr. So as i frantically look through my desk ( the top lifted up to a 90 degree angle) looking for a paper I knew damn well wasn’t in there, my dads lips began to tighten, as he started to bite his lower lip.
Some of you grew up with your parents death stare, I grew up with tight lips lol. My dad turned my desk top from 90 degrees to 180 degrees lol. It was then I turned into Ralphie from A Christmas Story “oooh fuuuucck”. My dad looked at me, and said “we’ll talk when you get home”. lol The only talking was him saying “move your hands, Bob Jr move your hands” The belt hits different when your hand is involved. I wish I could say i learned my lesson that day, nope, my dad was by my side in class a few times.
Now some today would say that’s child abuse. No, that was the 80s. What i learned, or rather understood later in life is that him sitting next to me all those times and giving me those ass whoopins was because he wanted me to do better because he knew I could do better. And what’s better than tough love?
Yes, he really did hit me with a Nintendo lol