I think I was 9 that summer. My parents bought a fake hammock (you know, one of those that comes on a stand) for our front porch and I was content to spend hours on it reading. My 7-year-old brother was content to cause trouble, and on this particular day did so by tossing me out of the hammock and onto the concrete porch.
I was hurt, but not so hurt that I couldn’t run and wake my parents from their nap. “Matthew pushed me out of the haaaaaamock!” I cried. “You have to PUNISH him!” My father opened up one eye and surveyed my brother and me. “I’m going to need some time to think of a punishment to fit this crime, “ he said, then dismissed us to await his decision.
Really, this was genius. It bought my parents more time to sleep, it placated me, and my brother spent several hours squirming with mental anguish over what our dad was going to do to him. Eventually my parents got up, we did some chores and got ready to go to the pool. Still, no punishment. My brother was getting so panicked that Mom insisted Dad mete out the consequence.
At this point in the story you might think that the punishment was the worry over the punishment, but you’d be wrong. My father, an artist, was more creative than that. With my mother, baby sister, and I waiting by the van to leave, he instructed my brother to stand in the middle of the front lawn.
My grandfather lived nearby in an assisted-living community. Each week the local grocery store would drop off their too-old-to-be-sold baked goods for the seniors, and Grampa Pai would bring us a batch. Most of the food was totally inedible, and this week was no exception: Grampa had delivered us a stale, robin’s egg blue cake. It was this cake that my father took outside to my brother.
Before you could blink, Dad had smeared Matt with blue icing and yellow cake head to toe!
My father laid a towel down in the van for Matthew to sit on, then made him shower in the POOL SHOWERS, you know, the ones with spiders in the corner and that smell vaguely of chlorine and pee? The HORROR! For my 9-year-old self, there could be no better punishment for my dastardly brother.
Now, I realize there are some parents who would cry foul over this. They would say punishments should be more related to the misbehavior and that fear is unnecessary and cruel, and they’d probably be right. But you know what? Matt never pushed me out of the hammock again, we all had a good laugh after the fact (him included), and now that Dad is gone, this is one of our fondest memories. It always makes us laugh, and I respect his creativity in parenting.
I was so excited to see my prompt (#1) posted at Mama Kat’s for this week’s Writers Workshop! And then I realized the story I created the prompt around doesn’t actually fit the prompt, because it’s about my brother being punished and not me. But whatever. I’m taking artistic license. If you can’t do that when it’s your own prompt, when can you, right?