The comfort I sought

I grew up back in the 60s when, as you know, spanking was the most widely used form of discipline among parents. I lived with my father, mother, a younger sister and an older sister and brother.

At the time of this particular story I was five, my younger sister three, my older sister 10 and my brother 18. My brother, the only boy of the family, still lived at home and was sometimes like a second father to us kids, since there was such a a big age difference. But he also still acted as a loving brother, scolding us occasionally and always playing with us, but usually leaving the discipline to mom.

On this day I had been happy but very mischievous, getting into things frequently and getting my hand slapped by mother frequently. I was also being quite rude to my little sister. I think this was only because she had fallen earlier in the morning and had been getting a good amount of extra attention as the summer afternoon wore on. As a five-year-old little girl, I think I was merely jealous.

Well, my sisters and I were playing outside in the back yard and having fun at it. This didn’t last for long. I was playing in our sandbox in my bare feet and sundress and Sarah, my little sister, came up and decided to take the toy that I was playing with.

This made me quite mad, because I hated how she always got everything she wanted. So I grabbed it back and out of anger – not on purpose – shoved Sarah face first into the sand. She began to sob as she pulled herself up.

My mother looked up from her chair on the deck (she was reading a book) and quickly came down to the sandbox. She picked up Sarah and cuddled her. After Sarah finished sobbing, she put her down and told my older sister to watch her while she had some time alone with me.

She took me by the hand and led me up the porch steps and into the living room. She sat down on the sofa and as she was pulling my sundress up over my head, she explained to me that I had had a spanking coming the whole day but that really did it. She told me that I knew not to push my sister around and that I would have to be spanked. I just stood there.

She picked me up and placed me over her knee, my hands went back to cover up my bottom, but she just held them behind my back. I began to squirm around and she began to spank. Smack! The first spank landed on my bottom, clothed in nothing but my underwear. I jumped with the first spank and kept jumping around on her lap as she continued to spank.

Smack, smack, smack! It hurt a lot, but I tried to hold still. Smack! My mother landed about six firm spanks in all on my bottom and then lifted me off her knee. I began to rub my sore, red bottom as mother slipped my dress back over my head.

I never understood why mother never gave me comfort after a spanking. Next, she just said: “Now that, young lady, should teach you not to shove around your sister, and to keep your hands out of things!” Then she ordered me to my room to think about what I had done. She pointed to the stairs and I dragged my feet as I walked upstairs.

My mother returned to the porch. As I walked down the hall, I began to sob again. I hadn’t meant to push Sarah; it just happened. Now my bottom was red and sore.

On the way down the upstairs hall, my older brother’s bedroom door came before mine, and no matter what the situation, I always knew him to be a comforter, (except for when he had to scold, of course) so I opened his door to find him lying on his bed reading a book. He looked up at his little sister rubbing her little bottom and sobbing slightly.

“Come here,” he said, softly but seriously. I walked slowly to him and reached my arms up to him. “What happened, love?” he said. Now, my brother was nowhere near a father to me in these situations; I always thought of him as a brother. He picked me up and sat me on his lap. “Mommy spanked me,” I said quietly, burying my head in his shoulder.

He smoothed his hand through my hair, shushed me and rocked me until I was done sobbing. Then he sat me up again. “Well, Steph, Mommy must have had a good reason for punishing you – am I right?” I nodded. “So tell me, love, what happened?” “I pushed Sarah and…and…I touched the flowers after mommy s-s-s-said no.”

“Well, that’s not like you,” he said, sounding surprised. “I understand, Stephanie, that we all get angry, but you know not to push our little sister, I know and you know that that’s not right, and I don’t want to see it again. Understood?”

He was speaking more firmly now, but I could hear the love in his voice, unlike mother. I nodded and buried my head in his shoulder again, starting up the sobbing a little bit again. I knew that my brother had just scolded me but I was glad that I could go to him for comfort.

He soothed me and calmed me down, then asked: “What did mom tell you to do?” “To go to my room,” I said, not wanting to leave him but knowing that he wanted an answer. “All right, then, love, then that’s where we’ll go.”

He stood up (with me still in his arms) and rubbed my little back as he carried me to my room. He laid me down on my bed and rubbed my back and told me (with love) that he wanted me to stay here and just ‘take some time out’. This made it sound so much easier to do than the way mother had put it, ‘think about what you did’, though I know they both meant the same thing.

I nodded and said softly: “OK, Sean.” I felt like I was doing it more for him than I was for my mother and this made me feel good, although I knew that my brother disapproved of my actions just as much as mother did. It was just that he made me feel so much more loved and I was always happy to have someone like that to go to.

I didn’t want him to leave but I knew he didn’t have time to comfort me all day. He kissed my forehead and left the room. I was sound asleep when mother came up later that day to fetch me for tea.

This story was contributed by Stephanie, who adds: Sean passed away in a car accident 18 months ago. And bringing back this one memory and many others like it brings tears to my eyes. I always did and always will love Sean so much and I also appreciated having him as a loving brother to go to in my troubles and happy times as a child and as an adult. And for all you youths who might be out there reading or for anyone else reading, please appreciate your siblings while they are with you, because they are the best gift you could have. And hopefully the closest to you.

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