With the decline in corporal punishment at home, I don’t know whether kids still have this conversation but back in my day, we often discussed how ‘strict’ our parents were with us. Mostly, of course, we meant smacked bottoms!
Many children I knew maintained that they never got spanked at all – they considered it a ‘baby’s punishment’ – but most were lying, of course!
The rest of us compared strictness using two main criteria. Firstly, what implement (if any) our parents used to smack us with and secondly, what state our bottom was in when we received such punishments (bare being considered the ‘strictest’, of course).
In truth, most of the children I knew probably just felt the back of mum or dad’s hand through their trousers. Quite a few got the slipper, a few less the belt or wooden spoon. Only a brave few admitted to getting it with their underpants down.
Although I didn’t get my bum bared for chastisement, I was considered one of the boys with the strictest parents – because my parents kept a cane for me and my younger brother. They acquired it for use on our bottoms when I turned seven – up until then, I had only had a few fairly cursory smackings with a parental hand.
Some years later, my mum told me they had decided on a cane for us for mainly three reasons. First, it would be similar to what we could expect in school if we misbehaved; second, it didn’t need to be used on the bare bottom but would still hurt very much (and it did); third, it didn’t require a great deal of physical strength on mum’s part to make sure our bottoms got the message – dad was away on business quite a lot so it was often mum giving out the beating.
‘Six of the best’ was our usual dose. The naughty child had to bend over the end of the sofa, mum would fetch the cane from the pantry and you’d be given your whacks. Even through trousers and pants, it stung very much and although I would try and take my punishment like a big boy, I would usually be in tears by the end of it. Then you would be sent to your room to ‘think about what you’ve done’.
The cane managed to mark our buttocks even through clothing, and we usually had some telltale red lines across our bottoms for a few days. During this time, I’d try to carefully position myself while changing for PE to avoid teasing from other boys, although I did occasionally see marks on their own bottoms which told their own stories of misbehaviour and parental justice.
The cane did us no harm at all – it taught us to be obedient, honest boys with a respect for authority, and I’m grateful our parents loved us enough to use it when needed.