I grew up the oldest of four, with a sister two years younger and brothers five and eight years younger. Though my parents were 1960s liberal types, they were anything but when it came to raising kids, and both were firm believers in the effectiveness of a warm bottom in maintaining discipline.
Spankings in our house were not everyday happenings, but they certainly were not rare and the sounds (and sometimes the sight) of one of us getting our bare bottoms tanned could be heard fairly often.
Much rarer was more than one of us getting spanked at the same time. The age gap between us was enough that we had our own circle of friends and didn’t really hang around together enough to get into trouble together.
While my brothers found themselves in trouble together more frequently (usually with dad), I recall only a handful of times that sis and I were involved in the same incident and were disciplined together.
The last incident I remember was shortly after I turned 15 and she was 13 – and as it usually did, the trouble began with a petty argument that escalated into a major conflict.
Mom was a big believer in household chores as a way to build responsibility and have us contribute to the household. Cleaning up the kitchen after dinner had been one of my assignments since I was 12. My sister was added to that rotation when she reached 12 and for the better part of the year, we had been sharing the duties.
We had worked out a system where we alternated the chores. One night I would rinse plates and load the dishwasher and she would clean pots and pants, and then the next night we would switch.
On this particular night, mom had made a pasta dinner and there were far more pots and pans involved than ordinary. It was my sister’s night to clean the pots, but she was protesting that I should help her because there were so many. I said no, that it was luck of the draw and that’s how it was.
Our bickering reached the point where mom poked her head in and told us to stop quarrelling and get our work done. Things escalated from there, with my sister Cara elbowing her way past me to throw pots in the sink and me pushing her away. Elbowing and jostling quickly turned to a noisy scrum that had water splashed all over the counters and kitchen floor, and the two of us using some inappropriate words that no doubt could be heard throughout the house.
I was determined to stand my ground at the sink, and being taller and bigger than my sis, was able to give her a healthy shove that sent her sliding into the open dishwasher door with enough force to sheer it from its hinge and knock a ceramic serving bowl from the counter on to the tile floor of the kitchen, where it shattered.
Both of us frozen in sheer panic, just as mom and dad came flying into the kitchen. When dad saw the dishwasher door hanging by one hinge, his face turned crimson. On the rare times I saw him that way, there usually was a dose of the strap in someone’s near future and I feared it was going to be my sister and me getting it from him soon.
Mom stepped between him and us, and very calmly said to him: “How about you take care of the door and ShopVac the floor, and I will take care of these two.” Dad glared at us but took a breath and nodded as he headed to garage for his ShopVac. My mother turned to us and pointed to the stairs. “Upstairs, and wait for me.” In our house, that translated to go upstairs to my parents’ room and stick our noses in the corner until she came up to warm our bottoms.
Cara and I stomped up the stairs, each blaming the other for starting the fight, with mom’s admonishment to be quiet because we were in enough trouble trailing behind us.
Double trouble at our house required some logistical modifications. My parents had just one empty corner in their room. I faced one wall and Cara faced the other and we stood there, hands at sides as we were required to do. All the while, we were hissing and fussing with each other and again using some choice words – some of which mom overheard just as she was entering the room.
We were called out of the corner and I was sent to retrieve the paddle – a plywood ping pong bat – from its resting place in the upstairs hall closet, where mom kept all the spanking implements. The rubber had been removed from one side of the paddle and it had been sanded and varnished into a pure spanking instrument. I made the short trek (known in our house as the ‘walk of shame’) and brought back the paddle.
Mom sat at her vanity and Cara and I stood side by side in front of her about six feet away. It was fall and we both were wearing typical garb for the season – fleece sweat pants and sweatshirts, socks and moccasin slippers.
Mom pointed the paddle at both of us and said: “Get those down.” That was her time-honoured command for us to shed pants and panties and bare our bottoms. Neither Cara nor I ever prolonged this task and we both quickly had pants and panties at knee level with one motion, now standing in front of mom on full display.
Though mom and Cara had both seen me in various stages of undress for years, once puberty struck I always felt embarrassed standing there with pants down waiting for a spanking. I kept my dark black pubic hair trimmed into a tight ‘landing strip’ in those days and Cara had a patch of dirty blonde hair shaped in the classic V.
I was around 5ft 8in at the time, and had long legs and a firm round butt that years of competitive swimming helped tone. Cara was about 5ft 5in, but still coltish and not as developed physically as I was, and her rear end was still more flat than shapely.
Mom did not offer much of a lecture. “You both know why you’re getting this. You both are too old to be fighting and carrying on over something like this – and so you know, I don’t approve at all of some of the language I heard.”
With that, she motioned for me to come over and get across her knee. Once the spanking started she said nothing else but kept a steady cadence of firm swats that covered my butt from top to bottom and side to side. We were required to count our swats out loud and I kept my count, with the occasional grunt or yelp when the paddle made contact with my rapidly reddening bottom.
Mom spanked in groups of 12 and by this age, 48 swats was a pretty standard spanking, and that is what I got with the paddle that day – enough to put a relentless sting in my back end that I vigorously rubbed as I climbed off her lap.
I went back and stood next to Cara, who was now summoned over with a wave of the paddle. I watched Cara shuffle over and climb across mom’s knee and put her hands and feet on the floor. Then her paddling commenced, with the same steady rhythm, until Cara counted the 48th and was told to stand up. She was fairer skinned and mom had turned her behind deep crimson, leaving two distinct blotches that started out pink at the edges and grew redder and redder toward the centre.
We were sent back to the corner and told to keep quiet and keep our hands at our sides. Mom exited, leaving her door wide open so our red behinds would be clearly on display for anyone walking past their room. During our exile, we could hear our little brothers poking their heads in from time to time and snickering at our expense.
We spent about 15 minutes in the corner, I would guess, before we heard mom’s footsteps come back in the room. We were ordered to turn around and come out of the corner. We were greeted with the sight of mom with the family strap in one hand and two small, hotel-size bars of Ivory soap in the other.
The strap was an old leather tool belt, about 1.5 to 2in wide, with all the pockets removed. It was permanently folded in half and creased. It was the ‘nuclear option’ in our house and the implement that was most feared and commanded the most respect.
Mom told us: “I don’t like the foul language I’ve been hearing from both of you and this will be a reminder.”
I was summoned to the vanity bench and I shuffled over with pants and undies bunched around my knees. I bent over and gripped each side of the vanity, putting my butt out at a 90-degree angle. The vanity had a large oval mirror attached to it, and it was incredibly embarrassing to look up and see yourself exposed and Mom standing behind you ready to strap your bare bum.
In the mirror, I saw her draw back the strap and then I felt the contact and simultaneously heard the crack as the leather landed across the centre of my bottom. I let out a gasp and then croaked out ‘one!’
There was a two or three second pause, and then the next crack, this one thrusting me forward. The pattern continued for 10 more licks, including two that landed at the tops of my thighs and made me let a howl both times.
When she was done with me, Mom sent me back and called Cara over. Cara assumed the position, gripping the bench and sticking out her butt. I was embarrassed seeing how exposed she was in that position, knowing that is how I must have looked.
Mom repeated the procedure with Cara, leaving a collection of horizontal stripes across her already red bottom. I was sure my bum looked similar. Like me, Cara was not a crier, but I did notice a few tears when she came back and stood next to me.
Now that we had been paddled and strapped on our bare behinds, there was one indignity still left. Mom unwrapped the two bars of soap and told us to open our mouths. She stuck the soap in and told us to hold it in place and return to the corner. This was not the first time I had my mouth soaped, but it had been awhile and I had forgotten how awful it was. Before I went back to the corner, I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror, pants and panties down with a bar of soap in my mouth, and I felt incredibly embarrassed.
We were kept in the corner for another 15 minutes or so before Mom came back and said we could come out. We quickly pulled up pants and sprinted to the bathroom to rinse out the awful soap taste from our mouths. Then we had to go downstairs and finish cleaning up the kitchen, which we did in far more of a spirit of co-operation, brought about by two very sore bottoms.
That was the last time I had my mouth soaped and also the last time I got the strap from either parent. I carried a set of red horizontal stripes on my bum for two or three days after and I had to exercise extreme care in changing in the locker room for gym.