A million internet mommas weep in my living room.
“This hurts me more than it hurts you.” Big Paul’s voice booms through the walls, meets me at the kitchen sink. The sound of the belt will arrive next. I scrub a plate in slip soapy water as Little Paul cries out in the back room. What was it this go-round? Little Paul runs when he should walk, sneaks juice and snacks into the living room, and makes a mess out of his father’s shaving cream where he thinks no one will find it. But it always gets found, and this time he got caught stealing. Big Paul’s father used a belt, and his grandfather used a switch cut from a willow tree. His rod is not for sparing.
The internet mommas are beside themselves. Heads shaking, hand wringing, calling out shame on you. With their old-woman curtains and sunny pictures. A good momma bakes a cake that looks hauled out of a garden, or bought from a toy store, or auctioned at the Louvre. A good momma crafts worlds out of sugar. Majors in fly catching and medicines going down.
They nose around my living room, checking for plastic stoppers in the electric outlets and a lock on the liquor cabinet. They got white gloves for dust and black lights for cum, or blood, or tears.
Millie, or Sarah, or Laura, or Sue whips out a laptop to write a blog post about this. “Discipline Disguised as Seven-Minute Crafts.” “Pinch Them with Kindness.” “Vegetables as Reprimands.” “Parent Gentle, Parent Well.”
Big Paul’s punishing shifts to lecture. He explains the dangers of stealing. Black hands can only take so much. Can only hide so far. Small gets big. The same with punishment. There are worst things for Black boys than a few smacks on the butt.
I’ve run out of dishes to wash.
Big Paul concludes, and Little Paul whimpers out an apology.
Mommy bloggers peek in our windows. Millie and Mayckenzie are on the patio, waving for me to leave the sink and burn the belt like that old legend about burning bras. Oaklyn and Paisleigh are at the bedroom window, taking pictures to show the police. Brayley pens a blog post about parenting horror stories.
Mommas rappel from the ceiling on rope like spiders. They perform stakeouts in hybrids and electric cars. They prepare to attack with archives, html, and an arsenal of pastels. I unplug the sink and watch the water gurgle as it drains. My hands drip dry, and I take a seat at the computer, type “daddy blogs” into the search engine, see what, if anything, surfaces in the end.