When he was about two years old, I decided it was time to teach my youngest son, the third crop so to speak, to stay in our yard without supervision. This had been a simple conditioning process with the other two because I stood around watching them, and whenever they put a foot out of bounds, I firmly swatted their bottoms. This worked so well that I could trust them out alone.

My mother-in-law when visiting us once, was upset when I let the first child out alone to play with busy traffic passing by, and she went out to protect him. Soon she came back saying, "You are right. He is safe. He just stands carefully on the curb and won't even go after his ball."

I had waited until the age of two with the third son because he had never been spanked. Born with eczema, his body was so broken out with rash that there wasn't any place to spank that wasn't sore, and I had used other methods when discipline was necessary. Now, however, he needed the freedom the conditioning would give him. The fresh air was better for his dust-sensitive system than the dust-ridden air inside the house, and I couldn't stay out with him as much of the time as he should be out.

"Stay in the yard," I said, tempting him by turning my back. Soon he wandered away, and I captured him quickly and spanked him hard, ignoring the rash. He howled violent protest long after I had stopped. The shock of his mother hitting him was great, and he did not recover quickly.

"Stay in the yard," I said again, ignoring his tears and wails. As soon as he recovered his composure, he left again. Quickly I recaptured him, spanking harder the second time. This time he didn't cry. He just looked at me with his blue, blue eyes until I had finished. Then, when I put him down, he left the yard again.

"I must spank harder," I told myself in desperation. He was so beautiful and so helpless. He was a tow head with hair as white and soft as the silk of a milkweed pod and a complexion beneath the exzema with tone on tone of loveliness. His features were as regular as those of a movie star. Most of his beauty, though, was in his eyes which were so blue they challenged the bluest of October skies.

"It is necessary for him to live as normally as possible, and he needs to be outside to stop this violent itching," I told myself. So I sat down to my task this time, and baring his bottom, I spanked as hard as I possibly could. Again he didn't cry.

Then I turned him over after I had finished and holding him in my arms, I looked deep into those blue eyes. As I looked, I became lost in infinity. Spanking was nothing compared to the pain he had suffered his whole life long, and this he had to face alone. He didn't care how much I spanked. As I lost myself in the depths of the blueness, I knew that he belonged to himself alone, that he was mine to love and cherish, but never to possess, not even for a fleeting moment.

I kissed him gently, put his diaper back on, and turned him loose. I went back in the house and let him wander. We lived on a remote street where no cars came but those of residents, and he would have to learn to protect himself. I received a frantic call or two from neighbors, but I just commiserated with them and continued to let him wander. He roved around during his playtime for two or three days until he had explored the area to his own satisfaction, and when he came home it was to stay. "Stubborn" is the word most people would apply to my third son when they see this quality in him. They do not, however, understand its source. He is easy to lead and normally cooperative about living in human society, but his core is hard, welded by suffering and pain, and he cannot be pushed. "The devil has blue eyes," I tell him jokingly, and I think he understands. It's a secret joke between us, and his eyes sparkle, while he grins. The devil has charm without a doubt. Each time we love, we nail ourselves upon the cross with Christ. As I could not suffer for my son but only with him, each time I err a spirit weeps with me, and each time I find the way a glow grows in my soul.

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