When I was seven, my mother died – and when I was nine, my dad remarried. My stepmom was smart, kind, funny, engaged, loving – and extremely strict. In her house, if you behaved, things were amazing. But, both for myself and my two new step siblings, if you didn’t behave, hell visited your bottom.
I was not given any time to ease into these rules or consequences. Rather, three days after she and my dad returned from their honeymoon, she felt I had done a ‘piss poor job’ of cleaning my room and needed proper motivation, in the form of a hairbrush.
So, in the living room and in front of anyone who wanted to watch, my dress was raised, my underwear removed and I stood there trembling, on display, while my stepmom tore strips off me verbally. I had never seen this side of her before – she was always so kind and softly spoken – but this was a lecture to remember.
Finally, across her lap I went. I was no stranger to being spanked, but never like this. The brush rained down hard, blistering smacks more rapidly than I could process, and I screamed and sobbed, begged and apologised – all to no avail. There was no mercy for naughty children here, and the spanking continued until she was sure I would struggle to sit down for a few days.
Then it was straight back to my room to do a proper job of cleaning it up – unless I wanted a second dose. Trust me, my room sparkled afterwards.
That was the first of many encounters with that brush over the next 11 years. I also saw it used on her two kids, and eventually on my twin younger siblings who were born a year or so after the wedding.
My stepmom never grounded us, never stood us in the corner or sat us on a ‘naughty stool’. There was one consequence in her house, and it was that brush.
Sixteen years ago, at my first baby shower, her present to me was a very similar brush – and as my oldest reached eight or so, I took him to the living room and…well, you can probably guess.
The brush served me well, if painfully, growing up, and it has served my four children in much the same way.