Growing up as the child of two secondary school teachers, it was never in doubt that I was expected to do well at school.
My parents weren’t super strict, but it was made clear to me that they wouldn’t tolerate being ’embarrassed’ by my behaviour at school. To emphasise this point, my dad kept an old school tawse (corporal punishment had been banned in educational establishments a few years before I was born) and wasn’t shy about threatening me with it.
I was generally a well-behaved young boy throughout primary school, though, always getting good reports and glowing parents’ evening meetings, so this sort of discipline was never felt necessary until slightly later in my school career.
When I got to primary year six (at 10 years old), I was put into a composite class with some year seven children. I got in with a different crowd and my behaviour started to slip.
I’ll never forget the look on my mum’s face as she started to read the first bad report card I’d ever brought home. It was a mixture of confusion, disappointment – and anger. She didn’t say anything for a long time, then looked at me and simply said: “Your father isn’t going to be happy about this. Go and get dressed for bed, then wait for him in your room.”
I knew Dad wasn’t going to be home for a few hours, so I had a long wait ahead. I got into my pyjamas and tried to read for a while, but I was just too nervous. What was Dad going to say? I’d never been spanked before so I wasn’t sure that would actually happen, and my Mum hadn’t mentioned a smacked bottom. But what if it did happen?
After what felt like days, but was in fact closer to a couple of hours, I heard the front door open and my dad come into the house. I couldn’t hear exactly what he and Mum were talking about downstairs, but I could take a good guess – and he didn’t sound happy. I waited for at least another 45 minutes until eventually I heard my father’s footsteps coming up the stairs.
My heart was pounding. I expected my door to burst open, but instead Dad went into my parents’ bedroom – this was strange.
“Chris,” I heard my dad call from the next room, “come in here, please.” I was really nervous now. When I entered the bedroom, Dad was sitting on the bed with a very stern look on his face. He was quite calm. He immediately began to tell me how disappointed he was, how important it was to do well in school etc.
Then suddenly, he stopped and said the words I was dreading. “It’s about time you learned a lesson, son. Fetch the belt from my drawer.” My heart sank – I was actually going to get the belt! I began to speak but stopped, as I realised there was no point. Once my dad’s mind was made up, any argument would have likely just made things worse for me and my bottom.
I fetched the belt and sheepishly handed it to him. I had no idea what to expect now. “Bend over the end of the bed, Chris.” I quickly complied. “Now, take your pyjamas down. Pants too.” I couldn’t believe I was going to get it on my bare bottom. “No buts,” Dad said, forestalling any argument from me.
If waiting for Dad to come home had felt like a long time, it was nothing to the 10 minutes which followed me bending over that bed. Dad alternated between lecturing me and leathering my backside in about equal measure. I think he gave me around 20 hard strokes – but it felt like more and I was in tears after just the first couple.
That was my first ever proper spanking, and unfortunately for me, it wouldn’t be my last.