I’ve just finished reading your wonderful story The naughty girls’ medicine, and I was struck how similar your correspondent’s experience of childhood discipline was to my own.
My older sister and I did get more casual hand smackings from our mum, particularly when we were very little, but by the time we got a year or two into our primary school years, we were considered more than old enough to ‘wait until your father gets home’.
Like Denise, when it came to giving out sore bottoms, our dad’s weapon of choice was the slipper, and it was well-suited to chastising naughty girls, that’s for sure.
As with a lot of things, this all seemed far worse when we were kids – I guess it’s a matter of the theatre of it all which makes an impression on a child, even more than the pain of the actual spanking itself.
If I was naughty, I’d be sent straight to my room to change into my pyjamas and wait for Dad to get in, usually later in the evening. During the school holidays particularly, I can recall spending almost all day staring out of my bedroom window, miserably watching my friends playing outside and knowing that my day at least was going to end with a very sore bottom.
Again, as in Denise’s home, there was a specific ‘spanking slipper’. I don’t remember Dad actually ever wearing it (though my sister does), but I do recall that the upper was made of navy blue suede and the sole was black rubber, thick but very bendy. The upper of the slipper had a hole in it, which I guess is why it had been ‘retired’ to concentrate on young bottoms. Believe me, it was very much up to the job!
After all this agonising wait, Dad would come into your bedroom, slipper in hand, and you’d know to stand up as a mark of respect. Nothing would be said – Mum would have already scolded us and anyway, they trusted the slipper to do all the talking necessary. Instead, Dad would sit down on the bed, quickly put us over his knee and give us our due whacking.
We were never made to count, as I have seen others describe here, but I guess we usually got an average of around 10 healthy whacks across our backsides.
Dad never bared our bottoms but the thin cotton seat of our pyjamas didn’t exactly offer much protection anyway. A slippering was a punishment that built up. The first three strokes would hurt, of course, but it was mostly just the sting. However, after a couple more the burning in your bottom would be just totally unbearable and each new smack hurt worse and worse. Even in my teens, I would be crying and kicking by the time Dad got to number six or so. Afterwards, the rest of the evening was spent in your room, generally rubbing your sore backside.
Although I don’t really agree that spanking is the best way to discipline today’s children, I have to say that I never got a slippering I felt I hadn’t deserved, and don’t harbour any grudge against my parents. It was just the way discipline was done in those days.
And unlike Denise, I don’t think our dad got any pleasure out of smacking our bottoms. I’m sure that if he had, he would have taken our pyjamas down to give it us on the bare, as many fathers of that time did anyway.