During the summer when I was nine years old, I visited my maternal grandparents on their farm – and brought my best friend Hannah with me too. Hannah and I loved spending time together – but it often ended in some kind of trouble for our respective backsides!
During the week we spent down on the farm, there weren’t many other kids around to play with, so Hannah and I mainly had to amuse ourselves, although my grandmother did her best to entertain us some too.
Where my grandparent’s garden ended, there was a forest. We were not allowed to play there, mainly because you could easily get lost but, in retrospect, I suppose there were also wild animals which might well have posed a danger to two little girls.
However, by the middle of the week we were spending on the farm we had become pretty bored, and the forest began to have something of a fascination for us. We found an old magnifying glass in the house and went into the woods, pretending we were explorers on an expedition.
We didn’t really go that deep into the forest. We found a place which looked like an old camp ground and we mostly hung around there, pretending to make a camp for our expedition to find some kind of lost tribe or other imaginary people.
While we were at our camp, Hannah showed me something she had learned in scouts – how to make a fire with the magnifying glass. We gathered together small switches and leaves, and with the glass we used the sun’s rays to light our fire.
What we hadn’t taken into account was that the smoke rising from the fire could be seen from some distance away, like an old-fashioned smoke signal. While I was trying to light my own pile of twigs and leaves, we were suddenly joined by my grandfather.
Needless to say, he was far from happy with us. Not only had we gone into the forbidden woods without adult supervision, but we had been caught playing with fire – which actually we both knew was very wrong.
My grandfather began to scold us, and finally said: “Well, I guess you two girls need a trip to the woodshed.” I knew this meant a sore bottom and I started crying. I think Hannah also guessed her fate at that point, as she too was soon in tears.
When we got to the woodshed, Grandpa closed the door, then began to lecture us about how we could have got lost, as well as the dangers of starting a fire in woodland. “There’s only one thing for naughty girls who disobey,” he told us, “and that’s a good spanking. Come here, Sarah.”
I reluctantly took a few steps towards my grandfather and he quickly grabbed my arm and put me firmly across his lap as he sat on an upturned log. Pretty soon, the only sounds coming from that woodshed were bottoms being smacked and two little girls crying hard.
When I got spanked, I usually got double my age in smacks but this time Grandpa decided it had to be triple, because of both our disobedience and the danger we had risked. So I got 27 really hard smacks across the seat of my jeans.
Then it was Hannah’s turn. She too was turned across Grandpa’s knee and he smacked her bottom very efficiently indeed. She was in floods of tears once the punishment was over.
After we had both been soundly spanked, we were taken back to the house and sent to the bedroom we were sharing to finish up crying and to think about what we had done.
Eventually, still with very warm bottoms, we were called down for dinner, where my grandparents hugged us both and we were admonished to behave ourselves for the rest of our stay.