My Informant was a 21 year old female who moved to the United States from Bogota, Colombia in 2004. She lives five houses down on my street.
Collector: Okay, what’s the story of La Chancla?
Informant: Well, it was this sandal that my mom used to hide in the pantry in the kitchen, and whenever we misbehaved, she’d threaten to get La Chancla and spank us with it. We were terrified of it as kids and didn’t want it anywhere near us, because who wants to get spanked right? And she’d use it too – and it hurt. I remember that as we got older, though, we stopped being scared of it (laughs). There was actually this one time when my brother and I opened the forbidden pantry and stole La Chancla from the kitchen. When we did something bad, we teased my mom saying “Well what are you going to do? Get the Chancla?” and she realized it was gone. Her face was priceless. I’m not really sure when she stopped using though, it just sort of… faded out of our lives.
Collector: Do you think your mom was the only one who used La Chancla?
Informant: No way, it’s kind of a cultural thing. Hispanics know what’s up when it comes to La Chancla.
Collector: Only Hispanics?
Informant: I don’t think anyone else uses it, to be honest. They have…what do you call them? The rulers on the wrist? Or something like that. Time outs? I don’t know, people discipline their kids differently in different places.
Parents tend to resort to scare tactics in order to keep their children in check. In a way, they instill fear in them in order to control them, which sounds kind of sick in a way, but it does work. I’m sure it’s all in the best interest of the children anyway, since I do remember having to respect something similar to the Chancla when I was growing up and I turned out just fine. Apparently, this is a tradition because my informant’s parents grew up with La Chancla as well and their parents before them too. I guess it is a Hispanic thing, like a right of passage of sorts.
For more information on the Chancla: http://www.npr.org/blogs/codeswitch/2014/11/04/361205792/la-chancla-flip-flops-as-a-tool-of-discipline