Planting the Seeds (of Life)

Notice the one container in the middle without the plants?

Notice the one container in the middle without the plants?

Until two years ago, I ate very few vegetables, other than cucumbers, asparagus, and lima beans. Yes, I ate lima beans. I always have. I don’t know how anyone couldn’t like them, particularly the big fat ones. Oh, I also ate macaroni and cheese, which is, of course, considered a vegetable here in the south.

I didn’t eat corn either, and people were almost downright offended that I didn’t eat corn.

“How do you not like corn on the cob?” they’d ask.

“Because I don’t like corn on the plate,” I’d say. “I don’t care what you put it on; unless it pops and comes in a bag, I ain’t eating it.”

Fast forward to two thousand and sixteen, and there’s nothing I won’t eat. I’m talking about vegetables. I’m not ready to go all Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern quite yet. By the way, Mr. Zimmern follows me on Twitter and you should, too. @jodyfuller <— simply click right here, just saying.

Two years ago, there would've been potatoes and rice on this plate along with the BBQ chicken.

Two years ago, there would’ve been potatoes and rice on this plate along with the BBQ chicken.

This year, I even started a vegetable garden—my first one. I have everything from A to Z: basil, beans, beets, carrots, chives, cilantro, cucumbers, okra, onions, peppers, peppers, and more peppers, rosemary, squash, tomatoes, watermelon, zucchini, and likely more. Uh-oh, looks like I’m missing an A so I might need to plant some arugula.

Anyway, let’s focus on the zucchini. There’s a life lesson in everything we do. Sometimes it’s right there staring right back at us and other times we have to search for it.

I planted my zucchini seeds in these little biodegradable containers just like I did just about everything else. In fact, I planted 2-3 seeds in three of them. Two of the zucchini seedlings popped up in no time, but one was lagging behind. It was more than lagging; it was nowhere to be found. I made sure it had plenty of sunlight and kept it watered, too. While the others continued to grow, it was still MIA.

After about two weeks, I decided to dig around in the container to see if anything had sprouted from the seeds. If you are unaware of the size of zucchini seeds, well, let’s just say that they are rather large and would have been easy to find. Much to my surprise, they were nowhere to be found. Unless there is a zucchini seed thief running around in my neighborhood, I hadn’t planted the seeds.

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Just because two of them are growing strong, healthy, and obedient, doesn’t mean the third will. I did everything I could to raise those things right. I watered them, put them in the sunlight, heck I even talked to them (don’t tell anyone) yet none of that worked.

The moral of the story is that whether you’re in the workplace or home, you have to plant the seeds early on. If not, all the love, time, nurturing, and mentoring will likely be pointless. It’ll be too late or it’ll take a long time to catch up.

For the record, I discovered my error two weeks into this young plant’s life, so I fixed my situation and I think we are on track to a productive life.

Jody Fuller is from Opelika, Ala. He is a comic, speaker, writer and soldier with three tours of duty in Iraq. He is also a lifetime stutterer. He can be reached at jody@jodyfuller.com. For more information, please visit http://www.jodyfuller.com.

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#Fulla5: Chicken Soup for the Soul

To quote another, yet fictitious, guy from Alabama, my concept of Fulla 5 will be like a “box of chocolates” because “you never know what you’re gonna get.”

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Mark Victor Hanson

I actually met Mark Victor Hansen, who is best known as the founder and co-creator of the “Chicken Soup for the Soul” series.

I’ve been very blessed to have 3 stories published in 5 different books the popular Chicken Soup for the Soul series. The first two were about my stuttering and the last was about my faith and the power of prayer. Scroll down to see the covers of each book and a sneak peak at each story.

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Click here to listen to my 15 minute podcast with Amy Newmark from Chicken Soup for the Soul

If you notice, Amy’s name is on the cover of all the books.

“A Lifetime of Stuttering” was my first story published in Chicken Soup for the Soul: From Lemons to Lemonade: 101 Positive, Practical, and Powerful Stories about Making the Best of a Bad Situation. I just write about how I went from a poor stuttering kid in Alabama to where I am now…a poor stuttering adult in Alabama 🙂

Number 1

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Here is a teaser of the first page:

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A Lifetime of Stuttering was also published in:

Number 2

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“Embracing my Uniqueness” was my second story published in Chicken Soup for the Soul: Think Positive for Kids: 101 Stories about Good Decisions, Self-Esteem, and Positive Thinking. This talks focuses on my stuttering, but the bottom line is that we all have perceived flaws, and if you don’t think you have one, then guess what…there’s your flaw.

Number 3

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I found this write up from momsteam.com.

Be proud of what makes you different. Jody Fuller is a stutterer. As a kid, he hated that – it made him stand out in school when he wanted to blend in. He stayed silent a lot in class, fearful classmates would tease him about his stuttering. Then in eighth grade he realized being different from everyone else was a good thing! “I finally embraced that difference and ran with it,” Jody writes. “I always volunteered to read and even used oral presentations as an opportunity to showcase my comedic talents… I was in control and would not allow the anxiety or insecurity to control my feelings, attitude, or behavior.” Jody went on to become a speaker, comedian, writer, and soldier. “It’s never easy being a kid. It’s especially tough when you’re different, but it doesn’t have to be,” he writes. “The time to embrace your uniqueness is now.”

Read more: http://www.momsteam.com/health-safety/connecting-with-kids-through-stories-of-other-kids-say-authors-of-Chicken-Soup-for-Soul-Think-Positive-for-Kids#ixzz45pSLlHn4

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It was also published in:

Number 4

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My third story has nothing to do with stuttering. It’s about how my faith and the power of prayer produced a miracle while I was in Officer Candidate School at Ft. Benning. Over 13 years later, I’m a Major in the US Army Reserves. “Miracles in Uniform” was my third story published in Chicken Soup for the Soul: Miracles Happen: 101 Inspirational Stories about Hope, Answered Prayers, and Divine Intervention.

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My Combat Action Badge may be out of place. The struggle is real.

Number 5

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I often have my books for sale at my shows and speaking engagements. They can also be found at ChickenSoup.com.

There are more than 250 books by Chicken Soup for the Soul. Explore them all by clicking here.

Jody Fuller is from Opelika, Ala. He is a comic, speaker, writer and soldier with three tours of duty in Iraq. He is also a lifetime stutterer. He can be reached at jody@jodyfuller.com. For more information, please visit http://www.jodyfuller.com.

Forever grateful for God’s plan

Please add your email address. It should be on the right side of the page somewhere. When I get my book finished, I’ll need as my followers as possible to help get it launched…

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To read the full story, click here. For lots of photos, scroll down.

When I left active duty Army 10 years ago, I planned on being a stand-up comedian and nothing else. I had it all figured out. Those were my plans. Fortunately for me, God had other plans. The last 10 days paint a great picture of where He has led me.

The first gig took place in Albany, Ga., or “All-benny” for those of you in the know. The event, a fundraiser called “Laugh for Literacy,” is the brainchild of the Family Literacy Connection. Before making the trip to South Georgia, I stopped at my bank and told the tellers over and over that I was going to speak at a literacy event. I continued telling them about the event as I pulled on the door three times to exit the building. The sign on the door clearly read “PUSH.” It was ironic to say the least.

Laugh for literacy flyer

The next event took place in Tampa. It, too, was a fundraiser. This one was for the Special Operations Warrior Foundation, which provides college scholarships for the surviving children of fallen Special Operations Forces. It’s not very often that I work a comedy club, but this was indeed a special event with my brothers born to international mothers, The GIs of Comedy.

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To learn more about the trip, including my mama’s first time flying, click on the link below. For lots of photos, scroll down.And, don’t forget to sign up.

To read the rest of the story, please click here: The Opelika-Auburn News

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Joe flew us to Tampa on a beautiful day!

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My buddy Joe and the GIs of Comedy

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My longtime friend Andrea and her beau showed up for the show.

Debbie VDD and GIs

I finally got to meet my friend Debbie. We’ve been Facebook friends for over 5 years.

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My mama and the GIs of Comedy

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We each received a very nice plaque and pen from the Special Operations Warrior Foundation.

 

Excerpt from my (in-progress) book

Post 9/11

It was mid-morning and Chyna and I were still lying in the bed asleep.

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During those days, I slept with the radio on. To the best of my knowledge that’s the only time in my life that I’ve ever done that. As I awakened and became more and more alert, I realized that the radio was airing coverage of a disaster at the World Trade Center. For some reason, I thought it may have been the anniversary of the first World Trade Center bombing back in 1993 but soon realized it was not. It was happening right then. We were under attack.

I wish I could say that I got dressed and immediately went to the recruiting station to reenlist in the army, but that just wasn’t the case; however, the thought did cross my mind more than once. One of the things I missed from my first stint in the army was the honor of wearing a combat patch on my right shoulder. I had a strong gut feeling that I might wind up there eventually, but I wanted to explore other options first.

Some of the job opportunities I’m about to go over happened before 9/11, but most of them took place afterwards.

One of my good friends sold insurance and asked if I was interested in coming to work for his company. My interest was piqued when he told me how much money I could make, so I took what I can only describe as a multiple choice personality or character exam to see if I’d be a good fit for the insurance business. As it turns out, I was not. I think I was too honest for the business. Honestly. They really thought I could excel and asked me to retake the test after a little coaching, but I declined. Insurance was not for me. Besides, I didn’t want people to scatter whenever they saw me approaching.

It’s funny, because nowadays, when people ask me what I do for a living and I don’t feel like telling them “comic, speaker, soldier, blah, blah, blah,” I simply tell them I sell insurance and the conversation comes to a screeching halt.

I also interviewed for a job at a furniture store. He made a snide comment about my stuttering but seemed like an okay guy. The interview went well but ended abruptly when he said he had to go run a credit check. He went to run it and I ran the other way. I never heard back from him.

The Duck Head outlet was next on the agenda. Due to my history in retail and my exceptional customer service skills, the interview went quite well. I likely would’ve landed the job had I not snickered when the lady mentioned that her cat had just died, and they buried it in a casket.

Adrian let me borrow a shirt for the next interview at the Hilton Garden Inn. I can’t remember what the position was, but the interview lasted a good 90 minutes and was filled with positive vibes. At the end, the lady was ready to offer me the job.

“Now this position starts out at $7.00 an hour,” she said.

“Do what? Why didn’t you tell me that 90 minutes ago?” I thought to myself.

Heck, I was making $11.95 an hour at Kroger. I told her thanks but no thanks.

Leaving Kroger before landing a job was a huge mistake. If I could go back and change anything about this period of time in my life, it would be that. My mindset was that companies would be lining up to hire me, not only because I was a veteran and a college graduate but also because of my proven job stability at Kroger. That was simply not the case, but I learned a valuable life lesson. Don’t quit your job until you have another one. It shouldn’t exactly take a rocket scientist to figure that one out, but I did have more opportunities.

Russell Stover Candies was a great interview and took place in Montgomery at a fancy hotel, one of those with the doors on the inside of the building. I vividly remember it being the Friday after 9/11. I was very excited about this opportunity and was confident that the job was mine to lose. I was very familiar with the company from my time working at Kroger. This job started off at $31,000 a year and came with a company car. I always thought that if I ever made even $25,000 a year, I would feel like a millionaire. Millionaire or not, it was not meant to be. I didn’t get the job and was highly disappointed.

I was struggling through it all. I was getting further and further behind on bills. I had to make choices between which bills to pay and which one to let slide. Of course, I paid the utilities first. They were necessities. One time, I went to pay my telephone bill after it had been disconnected. I needed it back on ASAP just in case someone called about a job.

“My phone was disconnected this morning, so I need to pay it,” I said as I handed her my check.

“Ok, let me see. It appears they are just doing some work on that line, so it’s not been disconnected,” she said.

“Cool. Can I get that check back?” I asked.

I was serious. She gave it back. My phone was disconnected the next week.

Stay tuned for future sneak peeks as I continue writing my still yet to be titled book about this poor stuttering kid from Opelika, Ala., who’s struggled to make something of his life with a whole lot of help from faith, family, and friends. Make sure you’re signed up on this email list. These previews are just the meat and potatoes, so please don’t notify me of any incorrect grammar 🙂

We’re also getting closer and closer to unveiling the brand new jodyfuller.com. Good things are happening. 

Does saying closer and closer actually make it any closer than just simply saying closer?

Thanks for reading,

Jody

Jody Fuller is from Opelika, Ala. He is a comic, speaker, writer and soldier with three tours of duty in Iraq. He currently holds the rank of Major in the US Army Reserves. He is also a lifetime stutterer. He can be reached at jody@jodyfuller.com. For more information, please visit http://www.jodyfuller.com.

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Who are the GIs of Comedy?

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Greetings from Korea, the Land of the Rising Sun…wait, that’s not right. Why can’t we get it right?

Who are the GIs of Comedy? Well, per the bio The GIs of Comedy is a comedic troupe of troops, who have taken their love of their country and brought it to the comedy stage. Quite simply, as the motto says, they’re Standup Comics. All Veterans. Still Serving Their Country. One Joke At A Time.

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And there are a handful of us, however, on this current Fall 2015 tour to Korea & Japan, there are five of us, courtesy of Armed Forces Entertainment. So, again, who are we? What are we? Apparently, that’s open for debate.

Thom Tran, US Army, ret.

Thom Tran, SSG (ret.) US Army

Follow Thom on Twitter.

First of all there’s the creator of the GIs. His name is Thom Tran. He was born in Vietnam but raised in Buffalo. He’s a medically retired Staff Sergeant who was injured in Iraq in 2003. To be more specific he was shot in the head and awarded a Purple Heart. He the Asian guy in Call of Duty Black Ops. Which Asian guy? All of them. Really. But who is he? What is he? People ask all the time. In fact, the Korean flight attendants on Korean Air started talking to him in Korean.

Major, USAF Reserves

Major, USAF Reserves

Follow Jose on Twitter.

Jose Sarduy is a pilot/instructor for the Air Force when he’s not telling jokes. He’s a graduate of the Air Force Academy and has served for 20 years. He even flew President Bush to China. But who is he? The Mexican and Puerto Rican sergeants at lunch the other day were amazed that he was an expert salsa dancer. Why were they amazed? “Because he was white.” So is he? No. What is he? What kind of name is Sarduy? It’s Cuban. Jose was born in Cuba and raised in Miami.

I met Thom and Jose in 2012. We’ve toured extensively. Great comedians! Great guys! Great Americans! Then there are the rest of the “GIs of the Comedy” as we were once dubbed by a local television anchor in Buffalo. But I’ll talk about us, too, extensively. Sherwood Schwartz dissed the Professor and Mary Ann on the early opening theme of Gilligan’s Island by referring to them as “the rest.” They were just as important as “the millionaire and his wife” and so are the rest of the GIs.

Key Lewis, US Navy

Key Lewis, US Navy

Follow Key on Twitter.

Key Lewis is a veteran of the US Navy. I met Key last year when we entertained troops in Italy, Jordan, Israel, and Jordan. He such a great comedian and so full of energy. Great guy who loves his family, hats, and shoes, but who is he? What is he? He tells a great joke that starts with: “I’m half white, half black, and look Mexican.” And everyone thinks that. He says he didn’t have a choice. Hell, I even call him “Llave” which is Spanish for key.

Ralph Figueroa, US Army

Ralph Figueroa, US Army

Follow Ralph on Twitter.

My newest pal is Ralph Figueroa. We did a show together over the summer in Vegas. He served in the Army for 12 years. Our paths likely crossed at Ft. Sill back in the mid-90’s and we have hit it off well. Ralph is a great guy, too, and does so much to give back to veterans. It’s quite impressive. He’s into cars and hair gel. He let me borrow some last night and after a show, walking in the rain, and 7 hours of sleep, my hair is still holding up well. But who is Ralph? What is Ralph? He’s half Mexican, half El Salvadoran, yet everyone thinks he’s Puerto Rican. They call him “Papi.”

Jody Fuller, Major, USAR

Jody Fuller, Major, USAR

Follow me on Twitter.

Then there’s me. Everyone else has their photo taken in front of a brick wall. I got a tree. I’m cool with that. They’re all big city guys. I’m not. I’m an Army guy for 23 years and counting…Enlisted, Officer, Reserves, National Guard, Regular Army, Salvation Army, you name it and I’ve done it in the Army…but who am I? What am I? I’m a white guy from Alabama, so naturally, people think I speak Roll Tide. I don’t. Not me. I’m an Auburn guy. War Eagle!

So now you know a little bit more about us, specifically, who we are. Now don’t get it mixed up again…

And a special thanks to our tour manager, Kennon, who is doing a great job and has her hands full keeping us all straight. I don’t envy her position at all. She also just happens to be Thom’s fiance.

Thom created the GIs of Comedy hoping to bring the therapy of laughter to troops still serving in combat zones, and technically Korea is still at war, even though they have a Captain D’s, Krispy Kreme, and the largest Base Exchange I have ever seen here at Osan.

Korea / Japan tour schedule

Korea / Japan tour schedule- Y’all come see us!

I’m honored to be able to entertain troops all around the world, but it’s even more special doing with such a great group of guys. I’m not just blowing smoke, I mean it. Now if we could just come up with a joke that starts with “A Korean, a Mexican, a Puerto Rican, a Bama fan, and a white guy named Jose walk into a bar….”

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Click here for the official website of the GIs of Comedy.

Click here for the official Facebook of The GIs of Comedy.

Click here for the official Twitter account of The GIs of Comedy.

Click here for the official Instagram account of The GIs of Comedy.

Sorry, we don’t do Pinterest…

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Jody Fuller is a comic, speaker, writer and soldier with three tours of duty in Iraq. He is also a lifetime stutterer. He can be reached at jody@jodyfuller.com. For more information, please visit http://www.jodyfuller.com.

Memories of Maw Maw, a Mother’s Day special (originally posted in 2013)

I received a text from a dear friend on Tuesday afternoon telling me that her beloved grandmother had passed away. Immediately, I started reminiscing about my own grandparents.

During her lifetime, my friend was very fortunate to know four grandparents. I was beyond fortunate to know five during mine.

I had a maw maw and a paw paw; a grandmamma and a granddaddy; and one more (great) maw maw. The first one didn’t die until I was 12 years old, so I have wonderful memories of each of them. I was truly blessed.

I have nothing but loving memories of my grandparents. As the crow flies, all five lived within five miles of each other deep in the heart of Tallapoosa County in a community named Elder. All went to the same church. All sat in the same spot on the same pew each and every Sunday morning.

My maw maw, the great one, known as “Miss Ruby” by many, was my grandmama’s mother. She was the matriarch of my mom’s side of the family.

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She lived by herself in an old log cabin until she died in her nineties. She raised my grandmother and four other children in the log cabin when it wasn’t quite so old.

They were good, simple, country, Christian folk.

One of my grandmama’s sisters was named Mary Alice. She was one of the kindest people I have ever had the pleasure of knowing. I thought her name was “May Rallis” until I received a letter from “Aunt Mary Alice” while I was in basic training.

She had another sister named Irma, who was a smoker and had a raspy voice. I didn’t know her as well as the other siblings, and, as far as I know, was the last baby to ever be named “Irma.”

There were two sons. Both Ronnie and Archibald Curwood served admirably in the military. Ronnie is still living and I could write an entire book on the life of Curwood Jennings. He was indeed a man, a myth, and a legend.

We spent every Easter, Thanksgiving, and Christmas there in that old log cabin with all my aunts, uncles, and cousins.

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(Maw Maw is in the red dress, Curwood is in the cowboy hat, and I have my hands on my hips for some reason.)

I always enjoyed watching one of the older cousins start a fire in the old rock-faced fireplace in the big room where maw maw quilted and many of us would eat.

We would sing “Joy to the World” for the blessing prior to our Christmas meal. In my family circle, that tradition is still carried on today. I hope it is in others, as well.

There was always enough food to feed an Army. The top of the deep freezer served as the dessert station with each dessert looking like the front cover of a Southern Living magazine.

After devouring that meal, I’d always find myself disposing of my Styrofoam plate in that raging fire, which was probably not the best for the environment but was still pretty cool to a kid.

I’ll never forget maw maw ‘s candy jar. It was filled with all different types of hard candy. I remember reaching in for one piece but always picking up the whole jar because they were stuck to each other.

By day’s end, I’d be sitting atop the rather large magnolia tree with my brother or cousin next to the dusty drive talking about whatever it is brothers or cousins talk about at that age.

I was 19 years old when she passed away, so my memories with her and of her run deep. She was an amazing lady. She wasn’t perfect but was pretty dang close. I like to think of her as being perfectly imperfect.

I’d planned on writing about each grandparent today but I’ll have to do so in subsequent articles. I simply have too many memories to limit all the grandparents to a single article.

I truly believe memories are a gift from God, and I know they will help my friend and her family through this time of grief.

Memories can be powerful. They have the ability to help us get through the worst of times, yet should also keep us humble during the best of times. How you use them is up to you.

Jody Fuller is a comic, speaker, writer, and soldier with three tours of duty in Iraq. He can be reached at jody@jodyfuller.com. For more information, please visit www.jodyfuller.com

Discipline works

“There are three things I remember about Mr. Young’s class: building a crystal radio, hearing about the assassination of President Kennedy, and getting three licks with a paddle for doing something I shouldn’t have in class,” says a former student.

I recently spent time with Bill Young, who one of my all-time favorite teachers. I remember a lot about him during junior high but what stands out the most is that he was a disciplinarian. I don’t recall ever having another teacher with his reputation throughout my 12 years in the Opelika City School System.

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While he never broke the paddle out on me, he did lock me in his office one day. I can’t remember why, but it was all in fun. I did get a lick on my hind side that year from Mr. Dudley, but it was for being late to P.E. I had the option of getting a lick or staying after school. I chose the former, because it was too far for me to walk home.

I’ve been at Ft. Eustis, Virginia, for the past two weeks conducting my annual training for the Army Reserves. I’m an individual augmentee assigned to an active duty unit. I miss a great deal about being active duty army, particularly the discipline. As with anything and everything, the army doesn’t have the ability to be as disciplined as it once was, as it now much kinder and gentler, and it shows. It is, however, still much more disciplined than the general population.

Saturday, I was having lunch in Williamsburg. There was a family with a young child in close proximity to me. The young boy was becoming unruly, so I started looking for Mr. Young—or at least his paddle. Fortunately, the father escorted the kid to the bathroom to administer much needed discipline. “I don’t want a spanking,” the boy cried. Upon his return, the kid hugged his mother and told her that he loved her. I’m not sure what happened in their absence, but it worked.

I got spankings from my parents all the time when I was a kid. I’m sure I deserved them and more. My mother was very good at them. “Don’t make me take my belt off” was often said, but the worst was when I had to go get my own switch. That still sends chill bumps up and down the back sides of my legs. Wow! Thirty four months in Iraq and I’m fine, but I may have PTSD from our back yard shrubbery.

My dad used to spank me, too, but he was blind, so I cheated. I would pad my pants or cover myself with a pillow or something. I know that I ought to be ashamed, but I did what I had to do. I’m sure he’s looking down from heaven shaking his head, but I’m sure he understands, too.

Last night, I had all you can eat sushi here in Newport News. It’s the first time I’ve had all you can eat anything in quite some time. I hadn’t felt that bloated in well over a year. I was miserable all night long. I needed discipline, but that’s self-discipline. No spanking was needed, however, as I more than learned my lesson.

At the end of one school year, toward the end of Mr. Young’s teaching career, he realized that he hadn’t paddled a student the entire year. He pondered as to why that was and posed the questions to his students. “Because our brothers had you, Mr. Young. We knew better,” said one student.

Discipline works.

Jody Fuller is a comic, a speaker, and a soldier. He can be reached at jody@jodyfuller.com. For more information, please visit www.jodyfuller.com.

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