Where was Home?

Today’s Writing 101 Prompt: Where did you live when you were 12 years old? Which town, city, and country? Was it a house or an apartment? A boarding school or foster home? An airstream or an RV? Who lived there with you?


When I was three and four years old we lived in house in a small town in southern New Mexico (United States). The house seemed huge to me, but I was small, so the house would now be considered small. There were several neighborhood children to play with but my best buddy was Rodney, and Rodney and I were both little three year old partners in crime.

I distinctly remember our neighbors across the street had a beautiful flower bed. What does three year olds do? They pick the flowers. The woman of the house caught me picking one of her flowers and demanded that I go straight home and tell my mother that I had picked her flower. She was an elder so I was obliged to mind her, so, I literally marched myself across the street to the back of our house, where the water heater was housed, and confessed my sin to the water heater. Then, I happily ran off to finish playing.

One beautiful summer day Rodney and I were outside playing and it was our good fortune to find a ladder standing up next to the side of the neighbor’s house. Because we were both little climbing monkeys, we climbed that ladder to the top of the house. Our mothers were outside and across the street visiting . They just happened to look up to catch sight of their 3 year old children walking all over the top of a neighbor’s roof.

I received a LOT of spankings when we lived in this house. Seems like every single night my mother would bark orders to my dad that I deserved a spanking. He would take his leather belt and slap it across my bare bottom three or four good whacks. Then he would go to the piano and play what I considered sad music.

Nevertheless, it didn’t change the fact that I continued to get whacked with a belt every single night. My mother said that she finally told my dad that they were going to have to stop beating me because it wasn’t doing any good.

I think my parents made the mistake of thinking that I had the same knowledge as they had in matters of right and wrong. They knew it was wrong to climb a ladder to the roof of the house at the age of three years old, therefore, I must know that too. I was only three years old! I had no experiences or knowledge imparted to me of the ways of the world and they were wrong in assuming that I did. I was a very curious and adventurous child and learned my lessons of right and wrong from the wrong end of a leather belt.



42 thoughts on “Where was Home?

  1. You have an impressive memory. I cannot recall this time in my life and I wish I did.
    Outside the house was the fun place to be and you and your friend made the best of it.
    This method of punishment was also (over)used in my house and you made a very good point about the reasoning of your parents in contrast with the cognitive development of 3 y/o.
    Thanks for sharing your memories in such a candid manner.

    • Thank you Lucile for such a wonderful comment. Unfortunately, back then that was an acceptable form of punishment and the only way that many parents new how to punish their children. There is so much more information on that now. I’m sorry to hear that it was overused in your home too. Three year olds simply do not have the intelligence or understanding of their parents and it was wrong to assume they did. Thank you for reading and for you wonderful comment.

      • You’re most welcome! I’m glad you liked it. I know how normal it was to use a leather belt to educate kids and totally understand that. My father retreats that though. It’s ok that’s what I tell him and I really mean it. We’re not easy kids either! ๐Ÿ˜‰
        I hope you forgave your parents too.
        It’s the best way to move on.
        Have a beautiful week.

  2. children are curious creatures, by their very nature and it’s all part of their development. it saddens me, however, to read about your beatings and abusive parents. violence doesn’t teach children anything. this is a lovely piece of writing, nostalgic and haunting. the image of a 3 year old clamboring over a rooftop made my heart plunge. glad you’re through this now, and seemingly stronger for it.

    and i bet you won’t/don’t beat your children….

  3. I chuckled when reading how your mom decided to not whack you anymore because it wasn’t working. That shows me that it was a normal form of discipline not abuse. You did a very nice job with this assignment. I enjoyed it.

    • Thank you Emily! They were young parents and doing what they had been taught. They were only doing the best they knew how to do. I appreciate your comment. Thank you!

  4. I can’t imagine taking a leather belt to a 3 year old. They are still so small and like many people on here of said curious and testing the bouderies of their worlds. Still I didn’t get the leather belt as my parents did but my Dad’s bare hand against my bare bottom hurt more than enough. I distinctly remember getting slapped across the face a few times too before my parents learned just to send me to my room by the time I was 10 or so.

    • I don’t remember my parents ever hitting me on the head or slapping my face. They used the belt on our bare bottoms. Well, actually dad did. He followed my mom’s orders. They punished me often (every night).

      • That’s a lot. Only my Mom ever slapped me as a preteen when I was being particularly mouthy to her. My Dad did the spanking too when we were little my Mom tried but she has small hands and always hurt herself lol.

    • No, and especially when you were getting punished for being a typical 3 year old and didn’t know you were doing something wrong. I think somewhere in there they created a child with problems with MH.

      • They certainly would with that kind of treatment. Just because it was years ago and they didn’t see it as abuse, doesn’t mean to say it’s not still abuse

        • Yes I know and I believe back then parents were “unknowingly” more abusive than these modern days. In fact, I think many parents are afraid to spank or hit their children. Which is probably a good thing.

  5. That made me sad that you were beat with a belt. I can’t imagine that. I know you said in the comments that they thought it was the right thing to do. But it’s still so sad to think about.

    I do like that you remember so much, and so vividly. And I love your natural curiosity. Up the ladder and across the roof. ๐Ÿ™‚ You must have given your mother a near heart attack.

  6. It was lovely to picture you and Rodney going on your adventures. My boy is just pre-walking now and I can’t wait to see and hear his tales of discovery (and even mischief) I couldn’t spank a child and agree with you – there is no way a 3yr old would know right from wrong. I’m going to try explaining with words instead. Anyway, I digress- this was really nice to read!

    • Thank you very much! I’m happy to know that you have insight to teach your son right and wrong the right way, by explanation. Thank you for reading and commenting. ๐Ÿ™‚

  7. You have narrated a glimpse of your childhood of an early age. I do not even remember how I used to bother my parents at 3 or who my friends were then.

    • Yes, my memories go back to me as a 3 year old. I do not remember everything at that age, but I remember some things. I don’t remember anything prior to 3 years old.

  8. Thank you for sharing your story. I know your parents, like mine , felt they were doing the right thing. I didn’t get too many spankings but I did get some that I felt was wrong. Our children were all different and each one required a different approach to discipline. What worked for one , didn’t work for the other.

    • That is very true Jessie. Children require different punishments. I’m sorry you had to go through that too. I know that was the acceptable form of punishment back in those days.

  9. Every child at three years old is very curious and will try anything to experiment with what they see. They’re little scientists at work day and night. My girls are the same way so I try to explain why they shouldn’t do it but I can’t imagine hitting them with a belt! Ouch! You’re a tough cookie PJ, you’ve overcome so much ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Thank you Lrod! Yes, I am a tough cookie. When I was a tiny girl this was the accepted method of punishment (sadly), and remained so until people realized they were doing more harm than good. I’m glad you explain to your daughters about the reasons not to do something. My parents were VERY young and frustrated as parents.

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