This is going to be quite a short contribution, as I can’t really single out a particular incident of corporal punishment from my boyhood, but I wanted to tell you a little bit about my mum’s use of the cane.
I am the younger of two boys. Mum always believed in corporal punishment, and we got the traditional ‘smacked bottom’ (we never talked about it as ‘spanking’) when we were naughty. Mum provided all the discipline in our home for the children, including a sore bum when needed.
When we were young boys, this consisted of having our underpants taken down and being put across her knee in the traditional manner. Mum smacked quite hard and these were certainly punishments you went out of your way to avoid.
However, when I was six and my big brother was eight, Mum must have decided that something a little more salutary was needed for when we were naughty boys, and she acquired a proper school cane (in fact she told us, when we were young men, that she bought two, just in case we decided to hide or break the ‘official’ implement – we never did, by the way!)
From then on, the system of discipline was the same – Mum would tolerate behaviour up to a certain point with fairly gentle correction, then there was a warning that if we didn’t come back in line, we would be caned. There wasn’t a second warning – the boy in question was simply marched up to Mum’s room, where the cane was kept in her wardrobe.
Mum had a small, low backed chair in the room which she generally kept for putting her clothes on at night. This was drawn out from the wall and you were instructed to take down your trousers and pants and bend over to be caned.
Six of the best was mum’s usual prescription for naughty boys and it hurt very much. I believe the cane is a good implement for children because it doesn’t really require a great deal of strength to make it really sting. We would have tram lines across our buttocks afterwards, which would fade after a few days but were a bit embarrassing if other boys saw them in the changing room for PE.
On the other hand, many of our friends were in awe of Mum – she was certainly viewed as one of the strictest parents, possibly the strictest, in our little circle because she had actually gone to the trouble of buying a proper school cane (it had the familiar crook handle) and keeping it for her boys’ bottoms. Most of our friends got more homely, makeshift items such as the slipper and wooden spoon from their parents when they misbehaved.
The cane didn’t need to be used often and indeed corporal punishment stopped altogether by the time we were about 12 or 13, but every time we were taken to Mum’s room to bare our bottoms, we were taught a valuable lesson by that deceptively innocuous length of rattan.