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Getting Your Mouth Washed Out With Soap - Did This Ever Really Happen?


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I can tell you, in no uncertain terms, that this was a constant source of terror in my childhood.

My mom, would *always* threaten to wash our mouths out with soap if we used bad language. "Bad language is a sign of a poor education," she would say (both my parents were in the public school system).

But it was that damned threat of getting your mouth washed out with soap that scared the living bejesus out of me for a good decade.

And, there were different levels of it. There was "soap," but then ... there was the unspeakable.

Fels-Naptha soap.

When I cursed, and wouldn't tone it down, it changed from "soap" to "Fels-Naptha soap."

I never knew what it was until recently, but what I did know was that it was something horrible, to be absolutely feared.

One day, she actually chased me up the stairs with a bar of Ivory Soap, but I got away.

And, thank God, never did I reach the dreaded "Fels-Naptha level." Fels-Naptha, to me, was the equivalent of The Devil.

My mom grew up on a farm in Kempton, Maryland, with 13 siblings. She had the "luxury" of being told to walk out into her backyard to choose the switch that she'd be hit with, or so she said.

Thank goodness, that never happened, although I sure heard enough tales of what a good life I had, not having to suffer through that psychological torment. Also, she supposedly walked to school five miles each way in six inches of snow "with rags wrapped around her feet" because they couldn't afford shoes. I called bullshit on that one early on, but I was never quite sure.

One day she chased me up to my room, where I crawled under my bed and wiggled back to the corner by the wall where she couldn't reach me. She went downstairs and got a fireplace poker and poked me out, then I got the snot beaten out of me with a folded belt.

In college, I had a friend over, and said something smart-alecky. She chased me around the backyard with a rake, although I looked back at my pursuer - half my size - and saw her trying not to smile.

Despite all this, the mere thought of Fels-Naptha soap still sends chills up my spine.

And, needless to say, I have never raised a hand to Matt in my entire life - she raised me well. :)

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I had mine washed out with soap once. I think it was when I told my mom I hated her. Never needed another lesson on that again!

My parents were very patient in doling out the spankings. You had time to think about what you had done and what was going to happen before you got spanked. They never spanked while angry or in haste.

Mental note: call my parents and tell them I love them. They're great. :D

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My mother always said that she wouldn't do that, as she once had her mouth washed out with soap and remember how awful it was.

My parents would require you to define whatever cuss word you had just used and justify its usage. If you could, all was well. If not, you were off to your room to "think about what you said."

(I note, it was DIFFICULT to justify cursing, especially to my mom.)

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I certainly heard that warning.  I don't recall it occurring.  I do remember a few spankings, etc.  Not a lot.  A cousin and I were discussing this recently.  He recalled a bunch of them by both his father and mother, including one where after he did something his mother let him know his father was going to hear about it.  My cousin prepared by putting books in his pants over his rump.  Didn't work.  His father figured it out.

So I had a follow up conversation about this topic with my mom.  She remembered hitting me some.  Neither of us think it was much.  My memory on that one was the time she hit me and I realized that those spankings/ hittings no longer hurt.  I have a strong memory of the moment I realized that penalty no longer hurt or stung.   :D

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Someone I once knew would squirt liquid soap onto a toothbrush and make the daughter "brush her teeth" with it when the daughter mouthed off. She explained it was the modern version of washing a kid's mouth out with soap.

My mother used to come after us with the flyswatter when we were acting up. Since she only ever whacked us on our butts, covered by pants, I know she wasn't trying to hurt us. We laugh about it now, as adults. Mom was only slightly surprised to learn that we faked our pain and outrage while being flyswatted.

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When I was in high school, I took a big chunk of white chocolate, wrapped an Ivory Soap wrapper around it and took it to school. Walked around at lunch eating it, with the white block of chocolate peeking out of the soap wrapper.

I was trying to outdo my older brother who had brought ham and swiss cheese on matzo sandwiches for lunch during Passover to the same school, a few years earlier. (Fairfax High School, on Fairfax Avenue in Los Angeles, which was about 95% Jewish at the time.) :ph34r:

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I feared my Amish Nanny way more than my Mother.  Although my Mother smacked me exactly once.  I am sure she did other small things at times, but I can't remember them.  My Amish Nanny would smack me though, again not often, but from time to time.  But I think it did me good.  Never a threat to wash my mouth out with soap.  The mere mention of telling my Father, although I don't remember him ever punishing me was way worse.  My Mom would also put me in time out although I don't really remember it.  It was a good thing my Nanny was around or I would have turned out really rotten, my Mom just wasn't a disciplinarian.  

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