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home : opinion : opinion April 19, 2018

11/17/2015 10:03:00 AM
Three Licks Or Three Days

Marty Reep, Author
Speaker, Forward-Thinker


In the eighth grade, Jason and I were in Mrs. Houser’s Social Studies class.  We liked Social Studies just fine, but we liked to cut up in class more.  One day, we were supposed to be reading about Mao Tse-tung – bored, we started messing around instead of reading.  At some point, one of us took the other’s shoe out of a gym bag and started sliding it back and forth across the floor between the rows.  It was supposed to be low-key fun and just between Jason and me.  But somebody else jumped in the middle of our game and kept the shoe, which wasn’t part of the game at all.  So, it got loud, and we got in trouble.

Jason and I had been good friends for a couple years, but since we were new to Mrs. Houser, she didn’t know if we were fighting or just joking around.  To get us to stop and to make an example out of us, she was going to send us to the principal’s office.  Sure, we had gotten mad at each other, but we weren’t “fighting” fighting – we were just goofing around.  Still, her response was, “I’ve had enough.  I’ve told you boys to settle down, and since you won’t listen to me, maybe you’ll listen to the principal.”

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She continued filling out the discipline slip for us to take to the office.   It was standard practice for kids who got in trouble to have to carry their own discipline sheet to the office.  It worked sort of like a double jeopardy item – if you showed up at the office without it, that means you tore it up and threw it in the trash can on the way there.  Well, that didn’t happen very often, because when they found the evidence, it just made it worse.  So, the irony of us having to carry our own “sentencing” to the “executioner” was not lost on us. 

“What’s he going to do?” we asked our teacher.

“Hopefully, he’ll paddle you,” she replied, deadpan. 

Our eyes got as big as saucers.  The principal was Mr. Shelton, and he was BIG guy.  He was legendary when it came to discipline.  Big kids were known to be lifted off the floor by his paddling and to cry for a while afterwards. 

But that wasn’t the only reasons I was concerned.  In that moment, something came forward from the recesses of my mind.  There was a standing rule in my house that if we kids ever got in trouble in school and got paddled by the principal, then we would get double at home!  My heart started racing, again. 

Still, Jason and I were hoping we could talk our way out of this one. 

In the office, they were expecting us.  We were greeted with looks of disappointment and shame by the secretary.  She told us to take a seat and wait for the principal.  Fear gripped me until finally a sense of resolution washed across me: I realized that one way or the other I would survive my punishment and that the sun would come up the next day.  …But the trick was I first had to make it to the next day!

Ten minutes or so later, Mr. Wise, the assistant principal came out and told us, “Boys, come into my office.”  Once inside, he started asking us questions, “So, why don’t you two like each other?”

Jason and I looked at each other, confused.  We looked back at Mr. Wise and answered, “We do like each other.  We’ve been friends since we met in the sixth grade.”

“Well, you sure do have a funny way of showing it.”

“We were just messin’ around.”

“Fine, but y’all need to stop messin’ and start behavin’.”

“Yes, sir,” we answered.

“Well, since this has been going on for a while, I can’t just let you go free.  But, I’ll give you a choice.”

“Clean the cafeteria?” we asked.  “’Cause we’ve heard that’s an option, sometimes.”

“No.  For this, you can choose three licks or three days at home.”

I immediately said, “I’ll take the three licks.” 

Jason’s head snapped around at me with a look of, Whuttt?

Mr. Wise’s eyes got big, too.  “Okay.  Are you sure?”

“Yes, sir.  You know I live on a dairy farm, and if I have to stay at home for three days ‘cause I got in trouble at school, I’ll be cleaning out stalls the whole time.  I’d rather just take my three licks and get it over with.  Even if I get more at home, that’ll still be better than three days of solid work!”

“You’ve got a point there, son.  Jason?  How ‘bout you?”

“I’ll take the three days at home.”

I glared at him. 

Mr. Wise left the room to go call our parents. 

Jason looked at me, “What?”

“Three days at home?  Really?”

“Hey, I’ll get zeros on my homework and quizzes.  That’s being punished, too.”

When I got home from school that afternoon, Momma and Daddy were waiting for me. 

“So, we got a call that you and Jason were fighting.”

“We weren’t really fighting.  We were ‘play’ fighting – acting – like we always do.”

“So why did you get sent to the office?” they asked.

“’Cause Mrs. Houser thought we were fighting.  And ‘cause we were throwing a shoe across the room.”

“What was your choice for punishment?”

“Three licks or three days at home.”

“Which did you pick?” they asked.

“The three licks, of course.”

“Why didn’t you pick the three days?”

“I knew I’d be working solid the whole time.”

“Okay.  So double three licks at school would be six, here, then.”

“But Daddy, you said if we ever got paddled by the principal, then it would be double at home.”

“Right, that’s what I just said.”

“But I didn’t get paddled by the principal.”

Daddy and Momma looked at me, confused.

“I got paddled by Mr. Wise, the assistant principal.  Mr. Shelton is the principal.  So, technically I didn’t get paddled by the principal.”

Daddy looked at me for a moment and then at Momma.  He grinned and shook his head slightly.  I noticed a twinkle in his eye.  Momma giggled and said, “You should be a lawyer.” 

Daddy said, “Technically, you’re right.  And technically, you’re still going to clean out some stalls so you’ll think twice next time about getting in trouble or not.” 

“Yes, sir.  Fair enough.”

They were still chuckling as they walked into the house. 

I stood there in the yard thinking, “Thank you, Lord, for Mr. Shelton being in a meeting, today!”

Jason took the three days.  Although he owned a few animals, he didn’t live on a farm that had to be worked every day.  So, his three days at home were watching TV, riding his bike, and playing in the woods while his mom was at work.  He told me afterwards that he actually did have to clean his house pretty good and to do some yard work.  Still – he got a lot of cartoons in during that three-day mini vacation at home. 

All in all, we learned our lesson; the teacher was happy that we settled down in class; and everybody wound up with another story to tell.

Marty can be reached at martyjreep(at)yahoo.com.  This article was adapted from one of his upcoming books.  For ones currently published, go to www.Amazon.com/author/reep.  Find Marty on Facebook at www.facebook.com/MartyReepAuthor.



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Reader Comments

Posted: Wednesday, November 18, 2015
Article comment by: Martha Ryan Shelton Goins

Thank you for the article! It is another memory to add to my collection of Pop Shelton stories! This time of the year is always very difficult for me and I do so enjoy hearing from others about my Dad. Thank you!



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