A Memory Man Production
It is the early 1960's and your thirteen year old son Kyle is keen on outdoor pursuits. Kyle is basically a good kid but he has his moments. Both you and your wife are vehemently anti-spanking and the atmosphere sometimes becomes quite fraught when he's undergoing punishment. He can get very moody and stroppy while he's grounded or suffering another of your alternative sanctions.
Some time ago Kyle spotted an advert for a two week 'Dad's and Lad's' outdoor 'bonding' adventure course during the school holidays. The course included sailing, canoeing, kayaking and even raft building. On land there was rock climbing, map reading, navigation and camp cookery before the course concluded with a five day backpacking trek. He persuaded you to (with some trepidation) sign up with him.
You are four days into the course and camping in the grounds of the lakeside headquarters in the two-man tents you will be using for the final trek. Everything is going well, you have discovered some hidden depths to Kyle's character. (and surmounted a few challenges yourself) You feel a warm glow when, after each success, Kyle comes up to you with a proud cheesy grin as he hi-fives you.
Then it all goes pear shaped.
You are sitting in the dining room chilling out with the other fathers after your evening meal when a cry goes up; four of the boys have taken kayaks out onto the lake against the strict rule that NOBODY ventures out onto the water without a safety boat in attendance. One of the boys is Kyle.
The camp director is called and he drops the bombshell of quoting the booking condition that reserves the right to remove anyone from the course who behaves recklessly endangering themselves or others and he requires all of you to leave after breakfast next morning. You all appeal but he is adamant; they have flouted a prime safety rule. He will be talking of the escapade and of the action he has taken to the others in the after breakfast briefing in the morning. If they are seen to get away with it, he states, it will have a profound effect on discipline and safety.
One of the fathers suggests "There are willows growing all over the place, if I give my boy a sound switching instead I'll guarantee nobody will think he's got away with it." The other fathers chime in their agreement. The director initially looks doubtful, but after deliberating for a moment allows himself to be persuaded, but with the proviso that for it to really be a deterrent to the other boys they will have to witness justice being done. Naturally you demur at the whole idea, but the director is adamant and will countenance no "softer" alternative to a whipping. The others quickly reach an agreement for six of the best to be delivered immediately after the director's daily briefing finishes in the morning.
You shrug and tell Kyle "Looks like we're leaving son" at which he bursts into tears and runs out from the room. The others chase their sons off to bed, one calling after them grimly "And you can be sure it will be six of the VERY best. As you leave to follow Kyle they were starting to discuss whether to "do it" like at home or whether in view of the audience they could keep their shorts on.
When you catch up with Kyle in the tent he is in tears and starts to babble "Please Dad you hafta do it as well I wanna stay I don't wanna go home we don't hafta tell Mum you did it. I can take it, I really can, I've had the cane at school you know.........." (actually you didn't know but you cut him off there.) "This is all your own fault Kyle, if you hadn't been so stupid and irresponsible we wouldn't be going home tomorrow" you tell him.
"If you don't do it like the rest I'll hate you for ever and ever ........ and EVER" he sobbed diving into his sleeping bag and covering himself up.
Phew! Not wanting to face anyone else tonight you turned in yourself. Then, far from sleep, you lay restlessly listening to Kyle sobbing into his pillow alongside you, and as you reflected your doubts started to grow. Kyle was not only prepared, but was pleading to be punished alongside his compatriots, yet you were planning to humiliate him by packing up and slinking away just as they were squaring up to their fate. If you left now you would have no more challenges to work through together, no more triumphant hi-fives and on top of that he would lose all respect for you, at least for a while.
Kyle was ready, even eager, to trade short term pain for another ten days of character building adventure with you. Are you right to deny him the chance? Are you sticking to your guns entirely out of principle, you wondered, or were you just funking the issue unable to steel yourself to accept the distasteful challenge of slashing a willow switch across Kyle's (possibly naked) buttocks six times.
Should you change your mind after all? Will you bite the bullet and decide to do it for/to him?
If you do will you burn your boats by relenting and promising him now? ........... Or will you both have a bad night as you continue to dither until the last possible moment?