Juan of Words

Raising a Bilingual Kid: Time Out vs Chancletazo

As children we did not know there was such a thing as time out.  Instead, we knew that when mamá or papá gave us that look we had better stop doing whatever it was we were doing, or else.  The or else could have been anything from un manotazo, to a pellizco or even a cintarazo or chancletazo.  Usually it was either of the latter.  It wasn’t that my parents were mean.  Nor were they aching to give us a good manotazo all of the time.  The truth is we were bad kids!

raising a bilingual kid time out vs chancletazo
El Chancletazo, or something similar to it anyway.

You can just imagine how much trouble seven kids under one roof can get into.   We were definitely creative in our antics.  One year, for example, my younger brother and I were fighting in Mexico.  He had made me mad and as we were leaving our terreno in the rancho, in one smooth move, I walked right up to him and broke a bowl on his head.  The bowl was not even ours.  We were actually walking to whoever’s house that had let us borrow the bowl to return it.  My mother, needless to say, was furious.  In fact, all of my siblings were angry at me for that stunt.  They chased me around our terreno, probably about half an acre in size, my mother with a chancla in hand, all ready to make me feel the same pain I had caused my brother.  He was at the front of the line, just ready to get his “revenge”.

Now before you go feeling too sorry for him, he was just at vicious with me at times.  Once, this is back in Houston now, again we were fighting and this time I was standing on top of a chair for some reason.  I think I was changing the light in the hallway of our apartment.  (Notice how in my version I am so innocently trying to be helpful).  All of a sudden he kicked the chair from under me in some way.  I came crashing down onto the back part of that chair, hitting my stomach right at the center of the tallest part of it, and then I literally could not breathe for a couple of seconds.  There was no air coming in or going out; I could not speak at all; I was moving my mouth but nothing would come out; and my face turned a bright red and then almost a light purple.  My mom meanwhile yelling and screaming ¡mijo! ¡¿qué te pasa?!  I was terrified.  My brother was terrified.  All of us were terrified.  Afterwards, mamá was ready to take a belt to both our behinds.  I can’t remember whether she did or not?

Though in hindsight, now I hope she did!

Fortunately, Edgar hasn’t hit that “bad” streak just yet.  By all accounts he’s a pretty great kid.  Respectful, obedient, one to always ask for permission, and even though he doesn’t like it, he does always do his homework and clean his room when he is told.  There have only been a handful of times where we have actually had to seriously discipline him.  My immediate gut reaction was to spank.  However, Anjelica is much more partial to the talking it out approach, taking away his privileges, punishing him with a time out of all things (LOL!), and then, if all else fails, mommy gets her chancla!  Edgar knows never to let it get that far.  I’ve kind of made the transition to this approach as well.  Though Edgar and all my nieces and nephews will tell you I certainly make very good use of the deepness and tone in my voice!

The Time Out approach.

The one time I did take Edgar to the room and spank him with my cinto he was in shock.  He had not seen that side of me before and I could see it in his face that he was completely confused about what was going on.  Afterwards, I felt about an inch tall.  I was upset at myself for letting my anger and frustration get the best of me.  So I went in and apologized, explained why I had done it, and told him I did not want to do it again.  Since then he has not given us any reason to do so.

I am really hoping it stays that way.

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