I am an immigrant, having arrived in the United States when I was 12. In my country, I was spanked frequently at home, and also smacked with a ruler pretty regularly at school.
About three weeks after arriving in my first US school, one of my 7th grade classmates informed me that the teachers here were not allowed to hit students, and that nothing of importance really happened at after-school detentions. For a mischievous 12-year-old, that was a license to cause all manner of problems.
I was a very smart child, and a good student, but not quite smart enough it seems. I would finish my classwork quickly, and then turn my attention to talking with friends, poking the girls at my table with a ruler, or writing dirty words in my notebook in Spanish. The teacher didn’t speak Spanish.
Well, one day, one of the girls I’d been poking told the teacher what I’d been writing and the teacher picked up my notebook. She asked what I’d written and I pretended not to understand. When a classmate translated the question, I lied.
The bell rang and I left, not worrying too much that the teacher had my notebook. About an hour later, I was called to the principal’s office and asked to explain my notebook to him. He was fluent in Spanish. I apologised, and then tried to blame the little girl who’d turned me in.
The principal called my house, but my mom was not home. He wanted me to read her the list on the phone. He gave me detention for two days, and told me to have my mom call him the next day. Of course, I didn’t say anything to my mom.
The next evening, the phone rang and I answered. It was the principal. I lied again and told him my mother was in the shower and he should call back in 10 minutes. Then I unplugged the phone. I plugged it back in the next morning, and forgot about everything.
That evening, I was at a neighbour’s house when my mom came in with the angriest look on her face I’d ever seen. She ordered me home, slapping my face, arms or buttocks every few feet. When I walked into the house, she started to lecture me about honesty and about bad behaviour in school. She then informed me that I’d be getting three spankings that evening: one for my bad language, one for lying to the principal and one for not telling her that I’d gotten in trouble.
She took out a belt and told me to take off my pants and underpants. I’d always kept my underpants on before, but I sensed that I’d better not argue that particular night. She made me lean over a chair and hit me 15 times with the belt. Then I stood against the wall, not touching anything, for 15 minutes and went back over the chair for 15 more.
Another 15 minutes against the wall, this time with tears that couldn’t stop, and then 15 more whacks with the belt. By this time, I was bawling and begging her to stop. Before she let me up, she took a big wooden ruler from my sister’s school supply box and said: “If the school had one one of these, young man, we’d never have gotten to this point.” She then hit me 10 times with the ruler on my already very sore and swollen bottom.
I got into trouble a few more times at school after that, but never so much trouble as to have the principal call my mother.