When I was eight, I was in Miss Bateman’s class. She was quite a young teacher (although she seemed ancient to us children, of course), with by now quite old-fashioned ‘batwing’ glasses (this was the 1970s) and a rather severe manner about her.
One afternoon, during a particularly boring geography lesson, I found my attention wandering again and again. To be fair, this was not unusual for me – I was something of a dreamer and was continually being reprimanded for gazing absent-mindedly out of the classroom window when I should have been learning.
Suddenly, my teacher’s voice cut in on my daydreams. “Adrian, what have I just been talking about?” Of course, I had absolutely no idea but couldn’t say that. I desperately wound back in my consciousness. “Was it about lakes?” I asked, with more hope than conviction.
“No it wasn’t – and the fact that you have to ask me tells me all I need to know. I’m tired of having to shout at you. Stay behind after class, and we’ll see if some discipline can help you remember in future.”
The afternoon dragged on interminably but eventually it was home time – for every child except me. Once the classroom was finally empty, Miss Bateman called me to her. She lifted her chair from behind her desk and put it in front.
“Right, Adrian,” she said sternly. “If you can’t pay attention in my lessons, let’s see if a smacked bottom will help.” This was not at all what I had been expecting but I was too shocked to struggle. Miss Bateman firmly guided me over her lap – fortunately, she didn’t take down any clothing but once I was in place, I was very conscious of the seat of my trousers stretched tight against my buttocks.
She then began to smack me with her hand. Even through my trousers, it stung like crazy – Miss Bateman had a good hard hand and was obviously no stranger to smacking bottoms. It wasn’t long before I started crying, but she carried on spanking until it felt like there was a furnace inside my pants.
She stood me up. “Now are you going to behave in my lessons?” Sobbing more like a boy half my age, I nodded through the tears: “Yes, miss.” “Very well. Come on – dry your eyes – you’re a big boy!” She handed me a tissue.
While I wiped away the tears, Miss Bateman took a scrap of paper, scribbled a few words and sealed it in a brown envelope. “This is a note for your mother. I expect to get a reply in the morning, or I will send you to be caned – do you understand?” Another nod.
Now, call me naive but I really had no idea that this note would be to tell my mother I had just been smacked – but of course it was, and when I gave it to her, her face turned to stone. Mum said: “Well, I’d better write a reply to this, hadn’t I? As for you, young man, I think you’d better go up to your room and wait for your father to get home and give you the slipper.”
I ran upstairs in a fresh storm of tears. All too soon, I heard my father’s car pull up on the drive and shortly afterwards he came up to my room as promised, took down my shorts and pants and bent me over a chair to slipper me until I couldn’t sit down. Mother’s face was grim with satisfaction as he brought me back downstairs after the punishment, my face stained from all the crying.
Neither spanking cured me entirely of daydreaming but I did a lot less of it in class after that.