My twin sister Jenny and I were well-behaved kids, but of course we occasionally did something wrong and suffered the consequences. Our mother was a warm but no-nonsense type person who had no compunctions about spanking or paddling us if we deliberately transgressed.
Under most circumstances, if she felt we had been very bad, she would deliver a vigorous, pants-down, over-the-knee spanking. If we had really gone over the limit, she would take down the sturdy wooden paddle from its hook on the kitchen wall. The paddle was mainly a threat – I don’t think either of us felt it more than twice in our lives. One such occasion was unusual for me, in that I literally asked for it.
The summer that we were nine, my cousin James and I had ‘borrowed’ a pack of cigarettes from my Uncle Ted, James’s father. We would sneak out to the woods and smoke a couple of cigarettes, coughing and choking, feeling both ill and very cool. Jenny refused to participate and told us we would get cancer if we didn’t stop.
I was scheduled to spend a week away visiting a school friend that summer and as chance would have it, the pack of cigarettes – by now less than half-full – was in my possession the day before I was to leave. I suddenly realised that my mother was liable to clean my room thoroughly in my absence, and no hiding place would be safe.
Checking first that the coast was clear, I quickly went across the hall to my sister’s room and stashed the cigarettes under her mattress. I meant to tell her about it later – but what with packing and the excitement of the coming trip, I forgot.
A week later, I was back – and found to my surprise that Jenny wasn’t speaking to me. All I got out of her was dirty looks. When I tried to ask her what was wrong, she would leave the room, slamming the door. I couldn’t figure this out – I wracked my brains trying to understand what I had done. Finally, I remembered the cigarettes.
She was in the living room watching TV. I sat down next to her, and before she could flounce out of the room, I quickly said, in a low voice: “Did Mom find the cigarettes? Is that it?” “Yes!” she hissed, without looking at me. “I hate you!”
“I’m sorry!” I said, pleadingly. “I was going to tell you but…” At this point, Mom walked through the room. We stopped talking until she was gone.
“Come on,” I said. I went up the stairs towards my room and after a few seconds, Jenny followed. Once in my room, she folded her arms and glared at me. “How could you do that to me?” she demanded. “Oh, Jenny, I meant to warn you, but…but I forgot!” This sounded lame even to me.
“What happened?” “What do you think happened? She made my bed and found the cigarettes!” “What did you say?” “I didn’t say anything. I wasn’t going to tell on you and James.” “So what happened?” Jenny sat down on my bed and looked very dispirited. “I got a spanking.”
I felt so bad I was almost sick. Jenny hadn’t had any problems with our parents for a long time – I tended to get in trouble a lot more often than she did. This must have been the first time she had been spanked in two years. And it was my fault!
“Oh, no, Jenny! I can’t believe you didn’t tell on me! You shouldn’t have gotten a spanking instead of me!” “You’re right!” she snapped. “I couldn’t believe it either. She spanked me on my bare bum and it hurt a lot!” “Really?” I asked weakly. “Yes, really! She kept saying how disappointed she was in me. And it wasn’t just a couple of swats, either! I’ve never felt so ashamed of myself! And I hadn’t even done anything!”
Jenny made it clear she wasn’t about to forgive me. As far as she was concerned, that was it. We weren’t going to be friends again – ever. As twins, we had always been close, and this sudden break was agony for me. My guilt over having provoked it, and for having gotten Jenny a spanking, was intense. I was miserable.
I kept trying to find ways to make it up to her, but nothing would do. Finally I said: “Jenny, if I confess to Mom and she gives me a spanking – would that make it better? That way I’d get punished and she would know you hadn’t done anything wrong.”
As much as I feared a spanking, at this point anything would be better than Jenny’s reproach. And I felt that I did deserve a spanking – maybe actually receiving it would make my aching guilt feelings go away.
Jenny considered. “You ought to get a spanking, all right – but that wouldn’t be enough. You should get it worse than I got it. If you got the paddle, I’d forgive you.”
The paddle! I balked. I had only gotten the paddle once before, when I had stolen another boy’s lunch money at school. I could still remember how much worse it was than a spanking.
But that night as I lay in bed, I made up my mind. I would tell Mom what had happened. She would be sure to at least spank me, but if she didn’t get down the paddle, I would ask for it myself. I imagined lying across her lap, and the resounding smacks of the heavy paddle. It would be awful – but it would absolve me.
The next morning I told Jenny. She looked at me doubtfully but I told her to come with me. We went down into the kitchen, where Mom was preparing lunch.
“Mom,” I said. “I have something I want to tell you.” “Yes, dear?” she asked, looking at me curiously. “I was the one who put those cigarettes under Jenny’s mattress.”
She was silent for a moment. She looked at Jenny and me. “Is that right?” she finally said. “I was the one who was smoking them. Jenny never would. She said we’d get cancer.” “Jenny was right, young man. Did Jenny tell you she got a spanking for that?” “Yes. That’s why I’m telling you the truth – so you won’t blame Jenny. She didn’t do it.”
Mom took off her apron. “All right. That’s very commendable of you, Tommy. In fact I’m proud of you for having owned up. But I’m going to have to give you a spanking. You understand that.” She paused. “So let’s go up to your room…”
I interrupted her. “Mom – please. I didn’t just smoke cigarettes; I got Jenny in trouble, too. I should get worse than Jenny got.” I took a deep breath and looked up at her. “I should get the paddle.”
Mom frowned. “Tommy, I don’t think…” “Mom – please! I deserve it.” “The paddle hurts more than a spanking, Tommy. A lot more. Think about what you’re asking.” “I’ve thought about it a lot – really.”
Mom looked at Jenny. Jenny looked back. Something passed between them.
Without saying anything more, Mom turned and took the paddle down from the wall. Then she left the kitchen and went up the stairs. Jenny gave me a funny smile, and we went up the stairs after her.
Usually, when I got a spanking, Mom would close the door. It was something private. This time, she let Jenny come in with me. Jenny stood by the open door, watching. Mom sat on the bed and I went over next to her.
We didn’t say anything. I pushed my pants and underpants all the way down and lay across her lap. My stomach was in a knot and I felt like I had to pee. Tears already stung my eyes and I was scared of the paddle. But I knew I had done the right thing, and I wanted Jenny to see me getting my punishment. So, evidently, did she.
Mom put her left hand on the small of my back and the next thing I knew, the paddle had exploded against my bare bottom. I gasped at the stinging smack and couldn’t help writhing in response. Mom held me firmly in place and brought the paddle down again, just as hard. After a good dozen smacks, I was bawling hard and my behind was blazing and throbbing. Mom stood me up and left the room.
I threw myself on my bed and wept into my pillow. The paddling was worse than I had imagined. But despite the pain and humiliation, I felt a great weight of guilt lift off me. I had been punished. I had made it up to Jenny. I was free.
My crying eventually subsided and I realised that Jenny was still there. She had watched the paddling and my sobbing reaction to it. She came over and knelt by the bed. I felt her place her cool hand briefly against my flaming buttocks. “Now we’re even,” she said softly. “We can be friends again.”
She left the room, closing the door quietly behind her. I smiled through the tears. It had been my worst punishment, but the only one I was truly glad to have received.