I'm sure it is not unique to Southern parents to come up with unusual ways to dole out punishment to their kids, it just seems that way to me. My dad had one of the weirdest.
My sister and I had to hold the tree in the front yard.
How is this a punishment you might wonder? Well, we usually ended up on tree duty because we were bickering with each other. So to have to stand face to face with a sibling you're mad at and are being punished with is absolutely no fun. Dad had a few rules.
1. No talking to each other.
2. You had to stand up the entire time, no sitting in the tree or sitting down at the base of the tree.
3. Both hands had to be on the tree at all times.
4. We couldn't come back inside until he said so.
There's a humiliation factor involved in this punishment. Many a time our neighborhood friends would ride by on their bicycles and ask "What ya doin?"
"Holding the tree."
"Because we're in trouble. And we're not allowed to talk so you'll have to go away."
Much snickering and taunting would then be directed at my sibling and me.
Once my dad forgot about us and we stood out in the front yard holding the tree until after dark. Now that I'm a parent, I can understand how something like this could happen. Enjoying the peace and quiet in a house where there are no children is not something you want to end.
How did Dad come up with such a strange disciplinary tactic? From what I understand, he had to hold a table leg or the railroad track that ran past his house as punishment growing up. This may or may not be true, but that's what we've been told. Makes today's time out seem pretty lame.
Editor's Disclaimer: The photo in this post is of my niece "holding the tree" in her front yard. No actual babies were harmed or punished.