Growing Up Alaska: The Switch

I will admit that when I grew up, we got spanked. Seldom was it done when my parents were angry and was often done by the calmer parent. Sometimes it wasn’t….and some of those were well deserved and funny.

I will save the whole back story for another time and will summarize it for you.

It was a cold spring day (talking -30º) and the Hot Springs near our house was showing movies. We had convinced our mom to let us stay, but in order to that, one of us had to run home (about 2 miles) to stoke the fireplace.

My second oldest brother, Clint, was picked and he drove the snow machine home to do this as quickly as he could as he didn’t want to miss the movie. Mom reminded him to make sure to close the door and pull it to latch it.

As you can guess, he didn’t and my puppy who was left on the screened in porch opened the non latched door and got inside. So you can imagine how upset my mother was when she saw the door open and knew the inside of the house was going to be cold and would take forever to warm back up.

Now add in the fact that my puppy found the gallon syrup bottle and chewed on it and drug it around the house leaving a now frozen sticky trail everywhere.

She was yelling and screaming and stomping about and we all stood outside well out of her reach. Then she lit into Clint.

After yelling at him and having to catch her breath, which I am sure was painful in that cold air, she announced the feared punishment, “Clint, go get a switch.”

Now this was not uncommon and we knew what she meant. If we got a small switch, she would whack us all the way to getting another one, so Clint obediently went and found a willow switch.

He handed it to mom and she raised it and gave him a good whack on the backside where it promptly broke because it was frozen. She started to swing again, but the sound the shortened switch made must of caught her off guard as she stopped and stared before she tossed it aside and ordered Clint to get her another one.

Clint did and returned a minute later where my mother repeated the action and the switch broke again. She had started to calm a bit, but this sent her over the edge again and she yelled at Clint to get another, which he promptly did.

By this time the rest of us were trying not to laugh because not only was the switch breaking funny and my mother thought Clint was picking switches that would break, but Clint was still fully dressed in his winter gear and even if the switch didn’t break, he likely wouldn’t have felt it through the layers.

Clint brought mom a third switch and she got two swings before it broke. We were all now snorting and giggling, Clint as well and this made mom even more irate, so she just kept swinging the little broken switch until it too broke.

We all stood there in the dark out front of our house, doubled over and trying not to laugh and stared at our mother who just stared at the stump of a switch. Her body convulsed as she too tried to hold back the laughter and broke the small willow stick which should have been supple and bent.

The darkness erupted with laughter as we all just lost it. Mom smack Clint on his butt with her gloved hand knowing that it wouldn’t have done anything.

It took two days to clean up the syrup mess and mom was still upset for days, but anytime one of kids would get into trouble and mom called for a switch, we would have to hide our grins as we thought back to that day.

Author: matthewlasley

I am a school teacher and an author. I like to write picture books, middle grade, science fiction and short stories. I live in Alaska and I love history, so those two things often influence my creative writing.

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