I remember it like it was yesterday – how could I forget? Our family – Mum and Dad, myself and my younger brother – had moved into a new house and were busy making it into a family home.
My brother’s bedroom was the first to be redecorated – he had new wallpaper (with images of trains), new curtains and carpet. For me, though, the best bit was his bedspread – also a picture of a train. I was excited because my room had the theme of racing cars. I couldn’t wait to see my new bedspread, a red racing car.
The weekend to begin work on my bedroom arrived and I helped my dad strip the wallpaper. He showed me how to do it and gave me a whole wall to strip – I felt very grown up. My younger brother, meanwhile, was supposed to be collecting the paper as we scraped it but he soon became bored with the task and wandered off.
Dad and I kept busy, however, and he had just praised my work when there was a howl from Mum. We both went to see what had happened.
Mum had found my brother with a paintbrush and paint. Somehow, he had managed to open a pot and splashed his new carpet, bedspread – and himself. The paint was everywhere! How he had even managed to get the pot out of the cupboard was a complete mystery.
My dad swore briefly, then I remember Mum telling him that he should sort the room out, while she would deal with my brother. Dad asked me to go back to my room and bag up the paper on the floor. Meanwhile, Mum removed my brother’s paint-splashed clothes and took him off to the bathroom to wash off his hands and face.
All the upstairs doors were open and I could see Mum and my brother from my room. By now he only had underpants on – the only item of clothing that had escaped getting splashed. My dad came back with a black sack, and took my brother’s clothes and rolled-up bedspread away downstairs. Meanwhile, I knelt down and began to collect up the scrapings, ready to go into a bin bag.
Mum didn’t say much that I remember, but what happened next was unforgettable. She dragged my brother to her bedroom, the door left wide open, and grabbing a mule-type slipper she lifted my brother across her knees. I had a clear sideways view of Mum, though I could only see my brother’s head, arms and back – I couldn’t see his bum or legs.
Mum pulled my brother’s underpants off, threw them aside, then started to spank him with her slipper. My brother yelped and his head bobbed up as the first smacks began to make an impression. His eyes were wide open as the shock and the pain sank in. I was dumbstruck – neither of us had had our bottoms smacked before.
I remember my mum’s face, set in absolute concentration and determination. My brother waved his arms, kicked his legs and yelled. His head bobbed up now and then, his face contorted with pain. Mum smacked very hard and really fast. You could tell by her face that every ounce of her strength was being put into each smack.
My brother’s tears flowed freely. After a while his struggling became less frantic. He appeared to be trying to escape in slow motion. It was painful to watch. He begged Mum to stop and repeated the word ‘sorry’ over and over, slowly shaking his head from side to side, as he did so.
Even though he had undoubtedly been a really naughty boy, at this point I began to feel sorry for my brother. What shocked me most was the sheer brutality of the slippering. Mum was clearly determined to teach her youngest child a lesson he’d never forget, and it was hard to watch and yet mesmerising at the same time.
Still she slippered that bare bottom. My brother went limp and was by now just a sobbing mess. From where I was kneeling down, I could see the tears, dribble and snot flowing from his face.
The punishment seemed to last a lifetime even for me only witnessing it – it must certainly have felt like it for my brother. However, eventually Mum dropped the slipper. Standing up, she took my weeping brother by the armpit to his bedroom door. He couldn’t walk properly, so he was half-dragged along the landing.
I was shocked when I saw the state of his bottom – Mum had slippered him to a scarlet, crimson glow! Each cheek had a lighter, almost white, patch in the centre – it must have been unbearable.
Standing in the doorway, Mum shouted: “Look what you did!” To emphasise her point, she turned my brother to face the scene of his crime. Then she bent down and hand spanked him hard at least a dozen times on the back of each thigh! My brother danced and howled all over again, and his voice sounded raspy and weak. He sobbed with huge gulps and was a complete mess.
Mum then applied one more slap to his bottom, as hard as she could, then marched him back to her bedroom. “Stay in there! Don’t move, don’t touch anything and don’t you dare come out or speak to me! No tea for you tonight, and you are going straight to bed when I’ve cleaned this mess up.” As she left the room, I kept my head down and bagged up paper as if my life depended on it.
Dad came back a few moments later and thanked me for bagging up the paper. I helped him carry the bags down to the car, ready to be taken to the rubbish dump.
Unbelievably, though, Mum hadn’t finished with my brother. When she had made up a clean bed and sorted out the mess, she collected him from her bedroom. She then sat down on his bed and gave him another sound spanking, this time with her hand. This time he was placed across just one knee, Mum’s other leg over his to hold him still, and the top half of his body lying on his bed.
Mum held his arm behind his back, then really let him have it. A fresh wave of sobbing and begging filled the room. Mum smacked him hard and fast again. This spanking in itself would have been a severe punishment but on top of the slippering my brother had already been given, it must have been agony.
Again, with the door left open I had a grandstand view of the chastisement. If Mum realised I was watching, she didn’t acknowledge me. I suppose she might have thought it a good deterrent for me to witness it. And it was – immediately the spanking ended, I retreated to my room in a state of shock and fear. I never wanted that to happen to me – I was genuinely frightened.
I heard Mum speaking again to my brother: “Now, go to bed and stay there! You are not to come out of here until morning – unless you want another smacked bottom!”
All the while, I scraped more wallpaper off the wall and kept my head down. I was stunned by what I had witnessed. I had no idea that a spanking could be so brutal. My brother was still crying when Dad and I finished scraping for the day and went downstairs for dinner.
Many of us have heard angry parents promising we wouldn’t be able to sit down after corporal punishment. Mostly, it’s an exaggeration to scare children but it was literally the truth with my brother’s bottom the next day. He had to stand up to eat his breakfast cereal and spent more or less the entire day lying face down on his bed. He hardly moved or spoke.
You can be sure I never crossed Mum from that day on. It was the only spanking she ever gave (to my knowledge, at least) and from what I had witnessed, I was dead sure I didn’t ever want to suffer such a fate myself.
I have always felt that what happened that day was out of character for my mother. The Mum I knew was loving and fun – but this episode scared the life out of me. To this day, no-one in the family has ever mentioned that spanking again.
For myself, the effects of witnessing my brother’s punishment have been life-long. To be honest, I was frightened of my mum for several years afterwards. As I say, if her intention was to make an example of my brother to also be a deterrent for me, she certainly succeeded.
The reality of witnessing such a sound spanking was intense. In my mind, I can still hear the sound of my brother pleading and sobbing hysterically and the rhythmic slaps of the leather-soled slipper making contact with his soft flesh. Similarly, the image of his little scarlet bottom being dragged along the landing cannot be unseen.
So many aspects of the punishment have stayed with me. Mum’s steely determination to inflict such a severe spanking. Her expressionless face as she administered it. And my own shock that after giving such a severe slippering, my mother still had it in her to spank my brother soundly for a second time.
I have often wondered how a normal, loving mother had it in her to dish out such brutal discipline.