One morning, as he came out of the shower, my son was startled to find me sitting cross-legged on the edge of his bed.
He approached me nervously, realising by the look on my face that something was wrong, and stood by my side. I narrowed my gaze on him and showed him the candy covers in my hand.
He mumbled ‘Mama’ and simply dropped his head. I raised his chin, looked him straight in the eye and said: “I found these under your bed as I was taking off the bed sheets for washing. Would you care to explain?”
He didn’t say a word but I could see that he was scared. I repeated my question, this time more directly and in a sterner tone. “Have you been stealing candy from the jar and hiding the wrappers under your bed? Have you? Answer me!”
Fearfully, he admitted his misbehaviour and apologised. I gave him a disappointed look and began to lecture him. “You have let me down. Haven’t I taught you, ever since you were a little boy, that stealing is a bad thing? Yet despite that, you steal from your own mother?
“Did you really think I wouldn’t find out? Were you not afraid of the consequences? You are in big trouble, my son. Stealing is a major offence and I am going to give you a very strict punishment tonight for what you have done.”
My son began crying at the words ‘strict punishment’. Seeing him trembling before me with tearful eyes, I did feel sorry for him. I sat him sideways on my lap, put my hand around him and comforted him.
I told him: “Mummy doesn’t like punishing you, but I need to correct you when you do something wrong – and stealing has severe consequences. I have told you this before, haven’t I? You know Mummy will have to punish you. It’s just how things are, my love. Bad actions have bad consequences, just like how good actions have good consequences. You have been a bad boy and so Mummy will have to punish you. Is that clear?”
He nodded. I consoled him for a few more minutes, then sent him off, saying: “Go throw these wrappers in the dustbin where they belong, and get on with your day. We will discuss this again at bedtime.”
The day went by smoothly. My son has learned that the more mistakes he accumulated during the day, the more severe his bedtime spanking would be. So after earning corporal punishment, he usually puts on his best behaviour for the rest of the day.
Later that night, as we gathered for dinner, I could see that my son was getting increasingly nervous and scared. It was time for me to ‘wear my strict mum hat’ and do the disciplining.
So with a straight, stern face, as we ate I reminded him: “Straight to your room after eating! You know what’s coming your way, don’t you? Mummy is going to spank you hard and long tonight – first with my hand and then with the strap, like I always do.”
Tears rolled down my son’s cheeks as he gulped his food down with difficulty. Again and again, he apologised and promised never to steal again, in spite of knowing full well that there was no escape from the punishment I was about to administer.
After the meal I washed the dishes, groomed myself for the night and went to his room. I sat on the wooden chair and had him stand before me.
“Look at Mummy. Look at me! Look into my eyes – don’t look away when I am talking to you! Why are we here? Come on, son, answer me!” “Because I stole candy from the jar, Mummy. “What has Mummy told you about stealing?” “It’s a bad thing, and I must never do it.” “Then why did you do it?” “I’m sorry, Mummy.”
“That doesn’t answer my question – why did you steal?” He had no answer for that, but stood there sobbing and trembling with fear. “What happens when you steal?” Again, no reply, so I answered for him. “You get a spanking. On your bare bottom.”
I pulled him closer and prepared him for the punishment, pulling his shorts and then his underwear down around his ankles. Then I drew him to my right side and took him over my knee.
I held my boy firmly, close to my body, and began smacking his bum cheeks sharply, alternating between the two buttocks. After a handful of these spanks, I upped the tempo with two brisk smacks to one cheek followed by two more to the other. This new pattern continued for some time before progressing to alternating smacks in sets of three.
I chided him all the way through the spanking. “You are a very naughty boy, taking candy without Mummy’s permission and hiding the wrappers under your bed. Bad, bad boy! Mummy is very disappointed with you! You need to be taught a good lesson! This will make sure you never, ever steal anything from anyone again. Bad, naughty boy!”
When I put him back on his feet, he was crying profusely. I wiped his tears aware and glared at him, pursing my lips and widening my eyes. I tend to use a lot of stern gestures throughout the punishment – that’s just my style and one of the nuances I learned from my own mother when it comes to disciplining children effectively.
“You know what’s next, don’t you? Yes! The strap!”
I took hold of his ear and marched him to his bed, ordering him to lie bottom up over a couple of stacked pillows while I retrieved the punishment strap from the cupboard.
I raised the leather and lashed his bottom with it repeatedly. I strapped him hard but gave him ample time between strokes to recuperate – and appreciate the sting. He struggled, much like he had over my knee a few moments earlier, and tried covering his bottom with his hands. I patiently removed his hand and whacked his bum several times.
Once I was sure he had had enough, I told him to get up and pull his lower garments back up to his waist. Then he quietly went to his chair and wrote a short note in his diary about the infraction and chastisement, while I put the strap back.
After he had written his little note of confession, I beckoned him to approach me again. “Will you ever steal again, young man?” “No, Mummy, I promise.”
I opened my arms and he ran into them. I cuddled him up and showered him with kisses. He cried quite a bit that night. I stayed by his side and comforted him, telling him that I loved him and would not have had to punish him had he stuck to my rules and been a good boy.
Just before I put him to sleep, I reminded him that we would take up this matter again on his Saturday review and caning.