Author's note:

This is not kinky (no BDSM, sexual fetishes, bags of props, etc.), but rather a funny discussion about parenting—modern versus traditional—and corporal punishment. If that offends you, please look away.

For the record, this author is personally against hitting children ... beating up fictional characters ... well, that's a hobby of mine.

All things Twilight belong to its creator. I am not she.

Alice skipped into the Cullen living room, kissed Jasper just under his eye, then shoved a rugged-looking fedora over his blond head. Rose and Emmett played canasta on the coffee table and Esme lay on top of Carlisle on the sofa.

Jasper smiled devilishly and dipped his chin, instantly transforming into a young Indiana Jones. "Do you like it?" he asked smoothly, while his tiny wife eyed it with skepticism.

"I hate it," she announced, matter-of-fact.

"Now don't tell me you didn't know how it would look on me when you bought it."

"Of course, I knew what it would look like, and I was right. Nessie insisted we buy it for you. She bought gifts for all of you," Alice warned with a grimace.

"Oh, well in that case, I'll be wearing it a lot." He looked apologetic.

"I know," she replied with disgust, as though Jasper intended to bring a dead moose to bed. "Oh, but look what else you got," she said, digging through a plastic shopping bag. She handed him a large shoebox.

"Wooo!" he crowed, opening up a pair of short cowboy-style hiking boots. He kicked off his dock shoes and dug his bare toes into the boots. "Now, how do you like them?" he asked, proudly.

"I love them," Alice gushed.

Esme straightened up off the recumbent doctor, who wasn't quite ready for all the kids to return. "Welcome home," Esme called as Bella, Nessie, and Edward strode into the house. "How was the shopping today?"

Edward's little family, along with Alice and Jake, had traveled several hours south to shop at the large outdoor goods retail center for camping gear and apparel—not Alice's favorite, but accessorizing her young neice—even for casual hunting trips—was an official business requirement. Nessie endured the car ride for the anticipation of seeing the panoramic animal displays and floor-to-ceiling aquariums.

Alice gasped. "Guess what we saw?" She paused and looked expectantly at the family.

Emmett taking in her incredulous expression, chanced a guess. "A cross dresser buying camo?" He shrugged when Alice shook her head. "Carlisle buying a rifle?"

"No. A woman spanking her child in front of the store!"

As the Cullens were leaving with their purchases, they walked past a furious mother, who used one hand to hold her daughter's upper arm while swatting the seat of the girl's short pink dress with the other. Despite the little girl's struggle, the woman managed to land most of the slaps on the intended target.

"Sure enough? I haven't seen that since the eighties," Jasper commented dryly.

"I know! In public like that."

"That mother must have been at her wit's end," Carlisle guessed.

"I was sort of rooting for the little girl," Bella admitted. "She almost got away."

"You must not have heard the massive tantrum that child was throwing in the bait section," Edward said with disapproval.

"Don't look so smug, man. It could happen to you," Emmett warned Edward. Then he pointed at Nessie, who was looking the other way, and slowly mouthed, monster.

Edward rolled his eyes. "My daughter is impossibly well behaved."

"Now, son," Carlisle advised with a smile, "The surest way hex your children is to criticize another child's behavior and then insist that your own wouldn't behave as such. That's how it happens every time. I've experienced it personally. It's not only a universal law, it's like a magic spell."

"Aren't we the expert on hexing," Rosalie teased him playfully.

"Clergyman's son," he responded with a shrug.

Emmett wrapped the subject back around to Renesmee. "And remember, we're talking about Bella's child," Emmett murmured behind his hand.

"Hey! I was a really good kid," Bella retorted.

"Because you played mother to your mother," Jasper explained. "You were too busy keeping her out of trouble to get into any yourself."

Rosalie scoffed. "Same as Edward. He's been trying to parent all of us for decades."

"I have not," he disagreed.

"You try to tell us all what to do, Edward," Alice informed, as though it were news to him. "A lot. And it's annoying."

Emmett nodded at scowling Edward. "Exactly, so with Bella's DNA and your control freakery, I don't have to check in with Alice to know that it's a matter of time before Nessie rebels. Then you are in for it, brother."

Resenting his implications, Carlisle and Esme instantly started to defend their little granddaughter, which only riled Emmett up further.

"Yeah, and don't you two act all innocent. Grandma and Grandpa do most of the spoiling. Rose is the only one who sets limits with her."

"No thanks to her Uncle Emmett," Edward accused. "I know what you and she get up to when you think I'm not listening."

"Oh, she doesn't need me to get in trouble. That girl is deviously brilliant!"

"Thanks, Uncle Em," Nessie said with a sweet smile. "Look what I bought you. It's special underwear. It prevents chaffing!"

"Wow, thank you, Ness. I'm going to try these on." Instead of leaving the room, however, he pulled the boxer briefs over his jeans. "I love 'em!" he exclaimed. Then under his breath so she couldn't hear, he warned Edward again. "You see? Watch that one. She's trouble waiting to happen."

Edward's expression turned to concern. Then he turned to his daughter. "Renesmee, if you ever behave like that child in the store..." He didn't bother to finish.

The little girl rolled her eyes and moved on to replay the day's memories for her grandmother.

All of a sudden, responding to Emmett's unspoken thoughts, Edward snapped at him. "If you ever persuade her to do that, first I'm going to spank Ness, and then I'm going to spank you."

Rosalie slapped her thigh. "See? He thinks he's the parent." She looked at Carlisle while gesturing to Edward. "Case in point. Nessie's yours, Edward, not the rest of us."

Bella's narrowed glare rounded the room. "Leave Nessie out of this conversation, please," she hissed.

"Where is Jacob, love?" Carlisle asked the girl, trying to change the subject.

"I sent him out for a run," she replied casually, giving Rosalie the pocket knife she had chosen for her aunt's gift. "He was a bit antsy on the ride home."

Edward clarified. "He didn't appreciate Nessie being so near all the weapons, nor Bella in the crowds. And then Ness persisted to engage in target practice at the gun display. I was worried Jake was going to suffer an M.I. And then as we were leaving, there was the disciplinary attraction out front by the water gardens. It...upset him."

"I wonder why?" Rosalie asked, not understanding why a spanking would bother anyone.

"Was she one of the scary moms?" Jasper asked.

"Definitely," Alice said.

"Yeah, she was," Bella agreed.

"The scary moms are...scary," Emmett added. "Much more scary than scary dads."

"That's true," Jasper seconded. "More unpredictable...on the verge of snapping..."

"What constitutes a scary mum?" Carlisle asked. "One that shouts?"

"Sometimes..." Alice thought for a moment. "But the scarier scary mom is more repressed, holding it all in until she reaches her limits."

Esme looked pensive. "Hm. Am I a scary mom?" she asked quietly.

Alice considered this. "You can be, yes."

Esme smiled. She liked being called a mom, even if it was modified by a less-than-attractive adjective.

Carlisle grinned at her, amused that his gentle, patient wife could frighten the young ones. "She doesn't even have any fangs," he noted.

Noticing Rosalie looking slightly downcast, Nessie whispered in her ear, "You're a scary mom, too, Aunt Rose." Rosalie smiled genuinely at the odd compliment while the rest tried not to laugh and pretended not to have heard.

Nessie then gifted a life jacket to Carlisle and a giant flashlight to Esme, earning her more insincere oohs and ahhs.

"Esme spanked Emmett outside that mall in New Brunswick," Edward reminded.

"No way," Bella said, mouth open.

Rosalie nodded. "Emmett was being a complete fool," she confirmed, kissing him on the nose. "You're such a bad boy."

"I couldn't convince Esme that Edward started it," Emmett hedged, "even though he did." He pouted.

"Emmett Cullen, it was your mouth that I heard that afternoon...over and over again," Esme said, bringing her fingertips to her brow, and sounding just as exasperated at the day it happened. "And Edward responds better to time outs anyway," she teased, grinning at her first son.

"How did you pull that off?" Bella asked Esme. "I must say, I'm getting the strangest mental image right now."

"Well, yes, I suppose it was strange. We were past the era for which it was acceptable to discipline your children in public, and even if it had been common...he's so big, and obviously too old to require physical correction..." trailed off in memory.

Edward finished the story. "She made him follow her outside to an empty passageway. Jasper and I banged a couple of dumpsters together to drown out the sounds."

"I'm impressed," Bella remarked, eyes wide. "Remind me not to get on your bad side." Esme was flattered. It was hard work keeping all the young vampires in line.

"Edward's fault," Emmett reiterated.

Jasper reminisced. "I remember when I was growing up, the two things you didn't dare do: one, talk back to your mama, and two, act up in public. Those two things earned you a licking quicker than you could say, 'I didn't mean to.' "

"That's the way it was," Emmett said. "Right, Edward?"

"I don't remember." Edward shuddered, lost in recall.

"Church," Emmett directed at Jasper. "You didn't dare act up in church. Otherwise your father would grab you by the ear and drag you outside."

"Then cut a switch," Jasper continued. " And wear you out for all the congregation to see."

"And even if the windows were stained glass, they could still hear you screaming over the choir music and everybody knew exactly why," Emmett revised.

"That's awful," Bella breathed.

"You two grew up like savages," Rosalie criticized. Alice just laughed like it was all very comical.

"You never so much as hiccuped in church again," Jasper finished.

"Neither of you actually remember that," Edward told his brothers. "You want to shock Bella."

"Yes, and it's working," Jasper said, smirking. "Not to say we're exaggerating. Like Emmett said, that's the way it was."

Bella looked at Edward for verification, who shrugged as if to say, I know. Things are different now.

"Your child could get taken away from you—especially if you try something like that in a store," Bella reported.

"That's what I was wondering about, too," Carlisle interrupted. "If that woman did that in public, what might she be capable of at home? And knowing CPS could take her daughter away—"

"They would give her right back again, I assure you," Edward laughed.

"At least we don't have to worry about corporal punishment in the public schools anymore," Carlisle said. "Not that any of you commonly get into trouble at school, but we had some close calls."

Alice giggled. "You mean one close call to be exact."

"My little brother just had to try out the principal's paddle," Rosalie interpreted for the new family members.

"It was an accident," Edward countered.

"I would very much like to hear that story, Daddy," Nessie said.

"Me, too," Bella agreed.

"I'm sure you will hear it, but not today, please," Edward replied.

"Children did seem better behaved in the old days," Esme mused.

Bella snorted. "Well, yeah. I'm sure I can guess why that was."

"Yep. You did wrong, and it was your hide that paid for it," Jasper added helpfully.

There was a lapse in the conversation, and the room was silent until Alice spoke up.

"On that subject, you all might want to know that nothing changes...in that respect...not in this family anyway." Alice, looking at no one, pronounced her prediction while each member of the family turned to stare at her. Then gradually, they looked away, frowning in reflection. Then the frowns turned to satisfied smirks and some nods of acceptance. Although no one would admit it, this was the way they preferred it.

That was the way it was, and the way it would stay in the Cullen household.