My parents administered corporal punishment to me rarely when I was a child – but there was a time, when I was around six years old, when I presented certain discipline problems.
Not without reflection, my parents believed that spankings were a good choice of punishment in certain situations. On the rare occasions when it came to that, it was my father who would give me an old-fashioned over-the-knee spanking, always with much solemn ritual and after a stern talking-to.
However, he would occasionally be away on business for a couple of weeks at a time and it was during one of those periods that my mother, a gentle person who rarely even raised her voice, found that the task was left to her.
Only 10 days previously, my father had found me playing with matches. It was not the first time. The first time, I had been warned and lectured. The second time, he let me have it and told me in no uncertain terms that if ever again I was found playing with matches, I would receive a spanking more severe than any I had had so far.
But then he left on a business trip. I guess I felt safe since he wasn’t at home and my fascination for matches got the better of me. When I thought no-one was around, I pulled a chair against the cabinet where the matches were kept, climbed up on it, opened the cabinet and helped myself to a couple of books of matches. As I stuffed them in my pocket, to my dismay, my mother walked in and caught me red-handed.
“Oh, Tom!” she said, disappointment writ large on her face. I gasped. There wasn’t much I could say. “I’m sorry!” I stammered.
“I’ll have to tell your father,” she said, looking worried. “Oh, please, no!” I whined. “Please, mommy, don’t tell daddy!”
The thought of waiting for his return was awful. My mother had never raised a finger to me, so it didn’t occur to me for a minute that she might punish me herself. But without waiting another second, she picked up the telephone and called my father’s office. Worse luck – he was in. I stood there in a sweat of anxiety, listening to her side of the conversation.
She described what she had seen. “Oh, dear, really…yes, I know what you told him…of course I know it’s for his own good, but…I don’t know how I could possibly…oh, goodness, I don’t know…if you think it’s best…all right, all right. Yes, I’ll call you back. Goodbye.”
She turned to me. “Thomas, I’m sorry. Come with me to your bedroom.” She turned without another word and started up the stairs. I followed her, still not imagining what was in store. I thought I was being put to bed without supper.
When we got to my room, Mother looked at me with a stern frown that was new to her. “You know what your father told you about playing with matches, don’t you?” “Yes, mommy.” I hung my head with exaggerated shame. “That I wasn’t supposed to do it anymore.”
“That isn’t all, is it? He told you that if we caught you doing it again, you would be punished very severely.” I looked up at her. She was telling me, I thought, that my father was going to spank me upon his return. “Since your father isn’t home, I’m going to have to punish you myself. Please take off your trousers and underpants now.”
My eyes widened. My father was one thing – I was used to him hitting me by now. But my mother? My gentle, forgiving mother? I stared at her unbelievingly. She set her jaw. “Go on!”
My heart began to pound hard as I fumbled with the button of my trousers. I was already barefoot, and stepped out of them quickly. “Now your underpants,” said my mother. She wouldn’t catch my eye.
Feeling somewhat sick, I took off my underpants and stood before her naked from the waist down. I felt the situation was impossible – unimaginable.
Mother pulled out the hard-backed wooden chair from my desk and sat down on it. “Come here,” she said loudly. She seemed to be building herself up to it. I came forward. She put me over her lap so my head and feet were in the air and my bare bottom square and centre. She put her left hand on the small of my back. Then she placed her right hand gently on my bottom.
With a catch in her voice, she said: “Oh, Tom, I hate to be doing this to you. You know I have to be very hard with you now, and it will hurt and I’m sorry, but it’s because we love you.”
Then she started to spank me. At first it hardly hurt but after a while, the slaps grew stronger. She didn’t hit as hard as my father, but hard enough. And my father didn’t make it last too long. My mother, on the other hand, began to cry as she spanked me and despite her hesitations, she kept on going.
Soon it was worse than my father’s spankings because my bottom was quite sore and she kept on spanking and spanking. What’s more, as she became somewhat hysterical with crying, she hit harder and harder. I began to cry loudly and pleaded with her to stop.
Soon she began to say things like: “Oh, why did you have to do it? Why do you make me do this to you?” She must have spanked me for 10 minutes. When it was over, my bottom was flaming hot and sore as could be. I ran to my bed and dug my head in the pillow, sobbing. My mother silently left the room.
That was the first my mother punished me physically – but it was not to be the last.