I’ll always be in awe of how my mum managed to keep discipline in a home of three small boys, and yet only once (at least that I can remember) did she resort to using corporal punishment. Normally, a ‘look’ was enough, mixed with the occasionally spell in the corner or early bedtime.
My parents were, I guess you could say, surprisingly fertile, and knocked out three sons in as many years before they decided that was enough children! This one incident I’m recalling happened after we had been cooped up on a rainy day. Tempers frayed, fights broke out and I can’t now even remember the trigger point – but eventually, Mum had had enough.
She ordered us all to follow her upstairs and led us into her and Dad’s bedroom, thenlined us all up in front of the bed and gave us the scolding of our young lives (for reference, I was five, so my brothers would be six and seven).
“You have all been very naughty children today,” she said, “and I think it’s time to see what a smack bottom will do.” With that, she went over to her sewing box in a corner of the bedroom and came back holding a heavy foot-long wooden ruler, which she more normally employed for measuring the projects she was working on.
One by one, she turned us boys around so that we were facing the bed, then went down the line again, this time yanking down our trousers and underpants. I remember the sound of soft crying filling the room – we had never been smacked before but we knew children who were, and we were very scared.
When she was done baring us, Mum said: “Three bottoms for mummy! Right – bend over the bed, all of you.” As I say, we were not at all used to CP and Mum had to go down the line again, bending us over and showing us how to put our hands on the bed and stick our bare bums out. She also made us stand closer together, and I remember feeling my middle brother’s left cheek against my own right.
Satisfied with the line-up at last, Mum made short work of going up and down it with that ruler. Considering it was our first smacking, it was pretty severe – the initial low cries soon turned to screams of pain as the hard wood reddened our backsides. Part of the agony was not knowing where the next smack would fall. Mum would mix it up – sometimes the spank would go across just one boy’s bottom, sometimes it would be shared.
I do remember we all had very sore, stinging bums by the time we were finally allowed to stand and pull our clothes back up. Then we were all sent to bed for the rest of the day.
In retrospect, I think Mum made a drama (and a damn good job) of that spanking simply because she never wanted to repeat it. As the years went by, she would occasionally ask: “Has it got to be three bare bottoms for mummy again?” The answer would be a firm shake of the head from three little boys, who go back to behaving themselves pretty quickly!