T-Model Knows Better: an advice column by life coach/musician T-Model Ford (Arthur, September, 2003)

From Arthur No. 6 (September, 2003)…


T-Model Ford says a lot. He says he’s 79 years old. He says he’s “the Boss of the Blues! TheTaildragger! From Greenvillllllllle….Mississippi!“ He says he doesn’t need his cane anymore. And he says he can help us. So, every two months, Arthur’s humble editor calls T-Model and asks him some pressing questions. T-Model gives his answers over the phone, then we at Arthur HQ transcribe the conversation, with some help from Bruce Watson at Fat Possum Records, T-Model’s record label. And bip-bap-boom, there it is. If you have any questions for T-Model, and we suspect that you do, email them to editorial@arthurmag.com

Dear T-Model: I’m a father. We’ve got a four-year-old and we’re having discipline problems. My wife wants to get a paddle, to spank the child with, but I’ve always been against that. Lately though this little tyke has been cruisin’ for a bruisin’ is how I see it. What should we do? — A Paddle With Her Name On It, Fontana, CA.

Well, if you trying to raise it right, get you a little cane switch. Don’t spank him. Don’t slap him. Get you a little cane switch and hit him on his little booty back there. Sting him. Don’t get the blood out of him, don’t whip him, just STING him enough til he’s started to crying then tell him that hurts. ‘You hurt?’ Then you pet him and talk to him. Try to teach him, Don’t do that no more, it’s wrong. And you can make a good child out of him. Cuz if you don’t, if he get too far then he gon’ wanna talk back, wanna slap you in the face. You ain’t gonna go for that! So start while you got him young, and let…Get a little cane switch and sting him on his little booty til he starts to cryin’. Talk to him. DON’T slap him or spank him! The doctor will tell you that! Don’t spank him, and don’t slap him. I don’t like it! I don’t like seeing anybody spanking a little child, or slap a little child. Cuz it injures them some kind of way. When you get your little cane switch, if you’re gon’ do anything, sting him on his little booty. It’ll come to him, when he’s doin’ it… You don’t have to do it regularly. But when you do it, let him know you mean business. He’ll come to be a fine little baby boy, or girl, every one. I got Stud here, I raised Stud from the time his mama brought him here, and he’s really fine. I don’t have a bit of trouble out of him. He’s a smart little boy. But the little girl? She’s stubborn. She won’t mind me, but she’ll mind them when they get a switch to whoop her! Like Stud, I don’t have no trouble. I tell him don’t do something, he don’t do it. With the little girl, I tell her, she’s getting mad and poutin’ and keep doin’ it. I’m trying to get me a switch for her. But I don’t whoop neither one of ‘em, but I try to teach ‘em the right way. And that’s the way you do yours. Don’t holler at ‘em and scold at her, or ever what it is, girl or boy, just talk nice to ‘em and TEACH ‘em. 

ARTHUR: Do you think kids are disciplined enough in society today?

The drunk people, you know how they get. They gonna go the other way anyway, regardless of how you do. You got to let ‘em know that you don’t mess with drunk heads or stud pieces. You wanna live right, honest to your wife, wife live honest to you, you gonna live and you got a child, you’ve got the child, try to live together to raise the child ‘til he get up where he can sort of provide for his own self. Stayin’ together. Don’t let someone ‘he say and she say and they say and this and them,’ don’t let em come tellin’ you nothin’! If a man come try to tell you somethin’ ‘bout your wife, just say, ‘Look. How you can tell so much about my wife, and I’m watchin’, I don’t see nothin’! You must be watchin’ my wife more than I is!’ And your wife do the same thing. Woman coming to tell her, tell her ‘Why you tellin’ me so much about my husband? I be seeing him, I don’t see him doin’ it? She must be watching your husband more than the wife is!’ So, don’t let nobody come tellin’ you what your wife done, nobody tell you what your husband done! You ain’t gonna live happy. It gets in your head, and mind… You think if she walk out the door, it’s something she’s doin’ wrong. Or something HE doin’ wrong. So don’t let nobody come tellin’ you about your family. ’Fore you married ‘em, they didn’t tell you, did they? Alright, then.

What about teenagers, coming home late, taking stuff, getting into trouble at school…? 

Well it’s the causin’ of how the mama and the daddy teach them. They get out there with the wrong, lettin’ ’em run with the wrong bunch. This girl come here, and your girl a teenager, she want her to follow her, go over to somebody else’s house. They talkin’ all kind of mess to her and tellin‘ her. The same way it is about a boy. The boy gonna run away to rub up on it, you gonna have a problem out of it. Girl gonna run with them outlaw girls, you gonna have a problem out of ‘em. Ain’t one thing you do, you teach ‘em, talk to ‘em, you tell ‘em what you don’t want and you’re not gonna have it. And MEAN that. Yeah, maybe every now and then you can let her go out with them nice boy or girl, but let ’em know, “I’m still the boss.” That’s at where you live. “You gon’ stay here? You gonna dance by my rules.” Daughter or son. “I’m the one takin’ care of you. You think you can gather up, you can take for yourself, get you a room, and see how long you stay away from Daddy and Mama.” 

They’ll come running back, won’t they.

That’s right! That’s RIGHT. 

I think this is some wise advice, T-Model.

I know it is. 

Categories: "T-Model Knows Better" column by T-Model Ford, Arthur No. 6 (Sept. 2003) | Tags: , | Leave a comment

About Jay Babcock

I am an independent writer and editor based in Tucson, Arizona. In 2023: I publish an email newsletter called LANDLINE = https://jaybabcock.substack.com Previously: I co-founded and edited Arthur Magazine (2002-2008, 2012-13) and curated the three Arthur music festival events (Arthurfest, ArthurBall, and Arthur Nights) (2005-6). Prior to that I was a district office staffer for Congressman Henry A. Waxman, a DJ at Silver Lake pirate radio station KBLT, a copy editor at Larry Flynt Publications, an editor at Mean magazine, and a freelance journalist contributing work to LAWeekly, Mojo, Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, Vibe, Rap Pages, Grand Royal and many other print and online outlets. An extended piece I wrote on Fela Kuti was selected for the Da Capo Best Music Writing 2000 anthology. In 2006, I was somehow listed in the Music section of Los Angeles Magazine's annual "Power" issue. In 2007-8, I produced a blog called "Nature Trumps," about the L.A. River. From 2010 to 2021, I lived in rural wilderness in Joshua Tree, Ca.

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