When I was six, my youngest brother was born. I loved babies, so I stood by and helped either my mother or nanny with his care all through his infancy. There was nothing more wonderful than feeding him – being allowed to hold his bottle all by myself. I loved it.
As he grew older, nanny began to walk him in the pram. Jeff was by now well beyond the stroller so we would walk with her. One day, when the baby was now nearly two, I asked my mother if I could walk him around the block by myself. It was right before supper and everyone was busy.
Mother put him in the baby harness so he could sit up safely. It worked out very well. I had him back in no time and both of us had great fun. I was feeling very grown up.
After several weeks of this, I decided to tease him a bit. I don’t know what came over me – “mean big sister” is all I can confess. I got around the block, completely away from the house, and I pointed up to the sky and cried out to him: “Oh, watch out! Here come the pigeon men!”
Then I ran behind a tree, leaving this poor child quaking in fear and abandonment. He cried and cried. I thought it was great! The guilt came over me very quickly, though, and I would go to him and comfort him, making myself out to be the heroine who rescued him. He was very glad to see me.
This went on, day after day, at that same location. I told myself that I would not do this again but the temptation to see his reaction was too great. At the same time, I hated myself for doing this because I knew how upset he would get.
One afternoon, there I was behind the tree, doing my thing, when my mother came around the block and caught me. I guess a neighbour had seen me in this ritual day after day and could stand it no longer, calling my mother to let her know what was happening.
“Gigi!, come out of there – now! What are you doing?” She picked up my little brother, who was sobbing and shaking. “Get on home, young lady, there will be punishment for you for this!”
Mother rubbed the baby’s back and told him that mother was here now and all was well, He snuggled against her. She made me push the carriage home, empty. I don’t know what happened to him when we got home. It is likely that nanny took care of him, as well as Jeff, but mother decided to deal with me. She had recently delivered my little sister at the time (born when I was in the third grade), so mother’s life was busy with four children.
She led me upstairs to her bedroom, the nursery being full. I knew I was in trouble and that I had no excuse whatsoever. I was relieved to be caught in a way, for my guilt over this behaviour was very high. I was still afraid about what was going to happen, though.
Mother opened the door, led me in, and closed the door behind her. My father was dressing for dinner. She told him what had happened, and I was terribly afraid and extremely ashamed to have him know. My father and I were very close. As he tied his tie, he stooped down and told me that he could not believe that his dear one could have been doing such a thing.
I started to cry. He told me that I would be punished, and I nodded that I knew that. He and Mother talked for a couple of minutes – my guess is that they were trying to decide who should deal with this. They each wanted to. I had been hurting their baby.
In the end, my mother won out, so my father went down to the parlour to have his before-dinner drink and wait for her. My mother pulled the chair out from her dressing table and pulled me to her. I could feel my bottom tingle already.
She placed her hairbrush within easy reach and began to unbutton my overall straps. They flopped back over my shoulders. I was already crying but she said nothing. Then she unbuttoned one side of my overalls, and then the other, letting them fall freely to the floor. I stood there facing her in my panties, blouse, sweater, shoes and socks. She removed my cardigan sweater, slid my panties down to join my overalls, and turned me sideways to her.
She gave my bare buttocks a sound slap and whirled me to her. “Why am I going to spank you hard?” she asked. I was crying from the slap, so I couldn’t talk well. Why do grown-ups ask questions after the child is crying? It is like the dentist who loads up your mouth and then asks you all about your family.
Because I didn’t respond clearly, she took that as defiance and she turned me once more and slapped my buttocks. I squatted down and put both hands on my buttocks now, looking at the floor and crying hard. She took my shoulders and lifted me to a standing position.
“Why are you getting a spanking this afternoon?” she repeated. I knew that I had better respond no matter what, so I told her in the best way I could. I knew she accepted that, because the spanking began.
Over her lap I went, head down, arms down, and feet up off the floor. My bare bottom was straight up, positioned for the very worst. Placing her left hand in the middle of my back, Mother began to spank my bare buttocks again and again.
I was howling now. I can’t tell you how many spanks there were. I didn’t count. I can feel it in my memory as I write.
She stood me up, and talked to me about frightening little children and how dangerous that was for them. She asked me to think about the things that were not real that I had been afraid of, including monsters under the bed and things in closets.
She told me that I had now planted a terrible seed in my baby brother that the grown-ups would have to help him with. I kept saying how sorry I was and rubbing my bottom. Over her knee again I went, and this time she used the hairbrush on me.
The spanks were quick, rapid-fire whacks, and the sting was incredible. I was leaping all over Mother’s lap but she held me firmly.
When it was over, Mother pulled up my panties and left the overalls off, knowing that I would have to change for dinner anyway. “Here – take these to Nanny and get dressed for dinner. Come down as soon as you are ready.”
As Mother gave me the overalls she kissed my on the wet cheek and told me that we could forget all about this now, and that she would need my help with being a nanny to my younger siblings. She wanted to be able to trust me.
I wanted to answer but I was in too much emotional pain. I arrived in the nursery and Nanny pulled down the back of my panties for a quick peek. She gave a clucking sound under her tongue and said that I must have gotten quite the spanking from my mother. I nodded.
Without any more talking, which was a relief to me, she helped me dress for dinner. Then she told me to go down with Jeff, for she would be with my little brother and the new baby in the nursery. I took Jeff’s hand and led him downstairs to the dining room.
My father met us at the door. He gave Jeff a hug, and Jeff ran to Mother, who showed him how to sit in his chair properly. My father stooped down and looked into my eyes. “Oh, my little princess! You have had such a time. Why do you do these things?”
He scooped me up and carried me to my chair, placing me carefully in the seat. I said nothing through the meal and ate just a bit, but the relief of having this all over was enormous.
I cannot emphasise the value of being caught and punished enough, if one is caught in something that is too great a temptation. As a child, I just could not stop what I was doing.
Every adult in that house knew what had to be done, and I knew that there would have been no disagreement as to the method and speed of the carrying out of the penalty. They all knew how guilty I felt, and they were loving me by co-operating with my need to be punished and forgiven.
I have spoken with my brother several times in recent years about this incident. I have apologised frequently to him for having frightened him so at such a critical age. He doesn’t recall it – but he feels close to me when we talk about it.