Fire before the fireworks

My parents divorced when I was seven, after which I lived with my Mom in New England, and spent one month visiting my dad in Georgia in the summers. My Dad remarried when I was ten, and in the summer of 1985 I spent the month of July with my dad, my new stepmom Kate and my new stepsisters Denise and Kristie, aged nine and seven respectively.

I had spent a month with my new stepfamily the previous summer when Kate and my Dad were dating, and I was happy to see them again. Kate had become a bit of a second mother to me, and I had great fun playing with her kids.  

A few days after my arrival, we all went to a big Fourth of July barbecue at a campground that was a short drive from my dad’s home. We arrived mid-morning and spent the day eating, swimming, playing games and listening to a live rock band. We had a great time and I was happy to be back together with them. 

In the afternoon, my stepsisters and I played a game of croquet. For those who haven’t played, croquet is a game in which you use a wooden mallet to hit a wooden ball through a series of hoops. Whichever player gets through all the hoops first wins.

We were having a good time at first. Denise and I were tied for first place, while Kristie was a few hoops behind. I started to position my mallet to take my next turn when Kristie said: “Hey, that’s my ball!” I replied: “What are you talking about? The yellow ball is yours. This green one is mine.” I had been playing with the green ball the whole game.

I was sure Kristie was just trying to switch balls with me because she didn’t like losing, and that she was being a little cheater. But she was insistent that the green ball was hers. We argued back and forth for a while, and I got more and more exasperated with her. Then, in anger, I kicked one of the balls. I wasn’t exactly kicking it at her, just kicking it in frustration. But the heavy wooden ball hit her shin. She let out a loud yell and ran off.  

I thought she was just being dramatic, so I didn’t think much of it, and Denise and I continued playing. However, a few minutes later I heard my dad’s voice calling us. “Mike, Denise – get over here. Now!” I could tell from my dad’s tone that I was in trouble. We both ran over to the picnic blanket where Dad, Kate and Kristie were standing. Kristie had her one leg of her pants pulled up, with a big red mark visible on her shin.

“Mike,” my Dad said, “what exactly happened here?” “It was an accident,” I said. Dad and Kate exchanged looks. “Denise, did you see what happened?” Kate asked. “They were arguing over whose ball was whose, and Mike kicked a ball at her,” she answered. “I wasn’t kicking it at her!” I insisted, “I was just kicking it. I didn’t mean for it to hit her.”  

Finally, my dad told us: “Everyone stay right here – don’t move.” He and Kate walked a little distance away and began whispering to each other. Then Dad came back and said to me: “Mike, you and I are going back to the house for a while.” He turned to Kate and said: “We’ll be back in time for the fireworks.”  

During the walk to the car I was hoping that my only punishment would be that I would be grounded at the house for a few hours until it was time to go back for the fireworks. But once we were in the car, Dad quickly dashed those hopes.

“Mike,” he said, “do you remember the talk we had the time you left your toy car sitting on the stairs?” I certainly did. Two years earlier, I had left a toy racing car that I had been playing with on the stairs at my dad’s house. Dad almost tripped on it.

Normally he would have put me in the corner by way of punishment, but that time he sat me down and told me that since I had done something that could have seriously injured someone else, I needed to be spanked. He proceeded to take down my pants, put me over his knee and spanked me soundly through my underwear.

“So do you know what’s going to happen now?” he asked this. “I’m getting a spanking?” I asked nervously. “Yes,” he said, “but not a little kid spanking this time – I think you’re old enough now for a paddling.” 

His words hung in the air the whole drive home. I was unsure exactly what to expect, though I was certainly no stranger to spankings. Besides the one from my dad, I’d received a few others. The year before, Mom had introduced me to her ‘helping hand’, a thin wooden paddle in the shape of a hand. I had also been spanked with a wooden spoon by my aunt and even gotten a hand spanking from Kate, along with Denise and Kristie, the previous summer. But my Dad’s emphasis on the word ‘paddling’ made me suspect that this would more than an ordinary spanking. 

When we got to the house, my Dad told me to go to the kitchen and wait for him. After what seemed like ages to me, but was probably just a few minutes, he returned. In his hand he held a solid-looking wooden paddle. It looked much thicker and heavier than Mom’s helping hand and I winced a little.

Dad told me: “Your grandpa used this on my butt when I was growing up. He gave it to me when you were born. I had hoped I would never have to use it.

“Now, you can keep your underwear on but I want you to take down those jeans.” I breathed out a deep sigh and unbuckled my pants. “Place your hands on the kitchen table and bend over.” I did as I was told.  

Once I was bent over the table, Dad positioned himself behind me and raised the paddle. “You’re getting 10 hard swats,” he announced. I waited anxiously for a moment, then the first swat hit my behind forcefully. I grunted. While I was relieved that I had been spared the humiliation of a bare bottom spanking, my thin underpants offered little protection.

Then the second swat landed, and my whole body tensed up with pain. Swat after swat followed, until finally by the tenth, I was really close to tears. When the paddling was over, Dad told me to pull my pants up and ordered me into the corner. I must have stood there for an hour before he told me it was time to go back to the barbecue.  

When we got back, we found Kate, Denise and Kristie by the picnic blanket, getting ready to eat. Sore-bottomed and feeling sorry for myself, I went off a little way by myself and sat gingerly at a picnic table.

Kristie came over with a concerned look on her face and sat next to me. After sitting in silence for a little while, she said: “Did you get spanked, Mike?” I nodded. “Hard?” “Pretty hard,” I said, “with a paddle.” Kristie nodded knowingly, with an expression that suggested to me that she was familiar with that paddle. After another moment of silence, Kristie said: “I knew the green ball was yours. I’m sorry.”  

After sitting a few minutes longer, we walked back toward the picnic blanket to join the rest of the family. Denise was sitting on the blanket, and Dad and Kate were standing to the side talking quietly. When Kate saw me, she came over and gave me a little hug – her way of letting me know that all was forgiven. We sat down to eat and get ready for the fireworks.

Contributor: Mike