In a previous contribution, I wrote about how my mother would wash my mouth out with soap when bad language was a problem. Now, I would like to relate how children in my family were spanked. The punishment routine was the same from the time we were young children until we left the house at age 18 or 19.
The rules of the house were clearly laid out for my two brothers and other sister. Chores had to be done, curfews had to be met and above all, grades had to be kept up. Any form of disrespect was also severely punished, as were any violations at school.
My mother and father felt that any violations were a family affair as they brought disrespect to the entire family. Therefore, punishments were also a family affair to show that family rules must be obeyed and to add a sense of humiliation to the offender.
When a rule was broken, the offender was notified that a punishment would be meted out. My parents never gave spankings when they were mad and punishments were a very planned affair. Punishment time was 8pm, after supper and when the kitchen chores were done. If someone were to punished that evening, an announcement would be made at the dinner table and it was expected that the entire family would gather in the living that evening to witness the affair. For my view, I think waiting was the worst part of the affair.
My mother and father could both hand out the punishment but usually my mother handled the spankings. She preferred to spank over the knee with the back of a hairbrush or wooden spoon. My father, on the other hand, used his belt while we were bent over the back of a chair.
While the implement may have changed, the rest of the regimen remained the same. A kitchen chair would be brought into the living room and the spanking implement placed upon the seat. The culprit(s) would then line up in front of the chair, usually staring at the spanking tool, and wait for my parents to arrive.
Other family members would sit on the couch or chairs to witness the punishment. The waiting time was a period of dread and doom and usually lasted at least 15 minutes – and up to an hour if all the children were to be punished. My aunt lived with us and usually took a prime seat in the living room. She would routinely taunt those waiting to be spanked, which only made matters worse.
Finally, my father or mother would enter the room. In the case of my mother, she would seat herself on the kitchen chair and announce the reason for the punishment session and tell the culprit(s) to prepare themselves. My brothers and sisters waiting for punishment would then strip from the waist down. As I got older, this became extremely embarrassing for us all and we would stand there with our hands covering ourselves to protect our modesty.
My mother would then call out our name and slowly we would drape ourselves over her knee. By this time, a few sniffles could be heard, as she would rub the hairbrush or spoon over our bare bottoms. Then the spanking would begin.
In rapid hard strokes, she would begin to wallop our bottoms, covering our entire backside. We would immediately begin to squirm and soon our legs would be kicking wildly in the air as our sobs filled the room.
There was never a set number of strokes for my mother’s spankings but they seemed to go on forever until we were crying and drooling like little babies and our backsides were deep red. If we tried to protect out bottoms by putting a hand back, the spanking would be stopped, only to start again – much harder and longer – in a few minutes. Protecting ourselves was something we really fought to avoid at all costs.
When the spanking was completed, my mother would pull us upright. We would stand there, dancing from one foot to another and rubbing our very sore bottoms without any regard to exposing ourselves to the others. She would pull us by the arm and we would stand facing the fireplace while additional punishments, if any, were given. Usually, we stood an hour facing the fireplace while we tried to soothe our sore backsides and stop crying.
After all the punishments were given, we would be told to gather up our clothing and would be escorted to our rooms for the night and told not to come out until morning.
On the average, I think I was punished about once a month until I left the house to go to college and I cannot remember a week when someone in the family was not punished.
Although we were left with very sore bottoms for several days, I never felt that we were punished in anger and I must say that every punishment I received was deserved. While they were, by design, a most unpleasant experience, they did teach us to be responsible and made us all much better people.