Bear Licking, Kid Discipline 101

I lived in Idaho for 3 years.

Besides being the most tragic era of my life, due to sheer Deserted Desert Syndrome, it also provided multiple chances for road trips with my best friend, Jas.

Before and after every semester Jas would join me in driving from Idaho to Indiana or from Indiana to Idaho. Each time we planned a different route, going through Arizona, South Dakota, and even detouring enough to hit Washington and Canada.

For all my grudging of its sparse population and limited entertainment and “glamour value” the West is a beautiful, wild, and special place. From the limitless horizon to the towering trees, winding rivers, red rocks, shrubby deserts and awe-inspiring, snow capped mountains it is a place that, once seen, never leaves you.

During our trip that canvassed Washington Jas and I stopped at a gas station to refuel, grab energy providing snacks (sour cream and onion chips and chocolate milk) and use the bathroom (we’re girls). We were waiting in line to pay for our provisions when we were distracted by a comotion coming from the “restaurant” side of the gas station. (It was one of those stores that had a generic Subway or whatsit attached. Basically the ONLY place in a remote town in Washington where you could get a footlong.)

There was a mother and her three children sitting around a table. Well, two of the children were at the table and the third, a baby, was strapped into its carseat on the floor.

Can we please, for a minute appreciate my horror at seeing a baby (carseat or no) on the floor?

For some reason I vividly remember the son having a lollipop in hand and a baseball hat on. The kids had that unwashed and slightly malnourished look that I learned to attribute to mountain people.**

The mother was missing a fair amount of teeth.

Frustrated with her son’s behavor in what she called a “fine dining establishment” the mother wrenched him down onto his seat, looked him straight in the eyes and said “If you don’t stop this second I’m going to tie you to a tree and let a bear lick you!”

Just like that.

Jas and I looked at each other in stunned silence for about half a second before collapsing into convulsive giggles. Hardly able to support ourselves we attempted to pay for our foodstuffs and gas before walking out into the very sunny afternoon and proceed to lose ourselves to an attack of mad giggling that caused stomach spasms and, quite possibly, drooling.

Only in the mountains of Washington would a mother threaten her child with a bear licking; I’ll never get to say anything that fabulous to any misbehaving child of mine and it is an acute regret that I’m prepared to feel.

**Yeah I know, I judge people. It’ll all come back on me. Blah blah.

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