I am blessed with a fraternal twin, although I didn’t always see my dear brother John as a blessing! Indeed, until I was about seven years old, I thought I was cursed!
I was always a calm, quiet girl whilst John was a hyperactive, attention-seeking maniac. He would run around the house, imitating a motor car and generally shout and scream. My parents tolerated this and would just say: “That’s what boys are like.”
Things changed when my parents had to fly to the other side of the world, to attend a funeral in New Zealand. My brother and I were sent to stay with our Godmother, whom we called ‘Aunty’ but was actually a cousin of my mother’s. A published author, she lived in a large house in the countryside.
The day we were dropped off there was glorious! It was so warm that we all had lunch outside on the patio before my parents left for the airport – and that’s when the fun started.
That afternoon, my brother charged around the house, as it was all so new and interesting. He looked in every room and all the cupboards. I remember I was given some paper and encouraged to draw – something which I was fond of doing – and John was encouraged to do the same.
However, he was relentless. “Settle down!” I remember Aunty saying a number of times. Her words falling on deaf ears, she eventually had had enough and gave my brother a few slaps to seat of his shorts. Despite him sitting in a rocking chair, sobbing and then sniffling a little, John was again running about the place in a short space of time, and that was when it happened.
In another room I heard Aunty scolding him, and the words ‘smacked bottom’ were mentioned, which instantly aroused my curiosity. My parents seldom smacked us, and when they did it wasn’t very hard.
Furtively, I made my way to the room from which the noise was coming. The door was ajar and as I peered around it, I could see the pair of them directly in front of me. I distinctly remember myself and Aunty making eye contact, but she said nothing. Instead she continued to rebuke my errant sibling. Aunty was sitting on a large stool by her piano, and held John by the arm as he stood there, crying, in front of her.
Then the best bit happened! Aunty lowered my brother’s shorts and pants and pulled him across her knee. She struck his buttocks really hard (or so it seemed to my seven-year-old self) and the crisp ‘smack’ was really loud. John’s legs seemed to spasm in response, and he let out a shrill scream.
Again and again, Aunty smacked my brother’s little bare bottom really hard. Smack, smack, smack, smack, smack, smack! It was quite frightening, but also compelling viewing.
I still remember the ambivalence I felt about what I was witnessing. My brother really annoyed me – almost all the time – and I knew that he deserved a smacked bottom – it was karma coming back to haunt him for being an irritating little brat. A few people had threatened to spank him, but none ever had before this moment.
On the other hand, however, John was still my brother and I felt bad for feeling the way I did. He continued to scream as Aunty smacked and smacked his reddening buttocks. She delivered each smack and then purposefully raised her hand about head height for the next one. I obviously didn’t count the slaps, but replaying the incident in my head, she must have delivered one every couple of seconds.
I remember feeling relief when Aunty stopped smacking John momentarily – only to realise that she was just repositioning him on her lap. This particular moment is something I still think about whenever spanking is discussed, as John had been well spanked at this point but Aunty obviously felt it was not enough.
John had struggled, wriggled and kicked throughout the punishment, and I can only assume Aunty thought she was about to lose her grip. She let go of the arm she had been pinning to his back and with two hands adjusted him, then resumed smacking his already very red bottom. When she did finally finish, his buttocks were a deep shade of red.
Then Aunty sternly told John that he was to go the bedroom which had been prepared for us and stay there until dinner – after which he was to go to bed. She added that if she set eyes on him outside his room before or after dinner, he would go back over her knee for more of the same.
All in all, I recall Aunty smacking my brother’s bottom four more times during our fortnight’s stay, but my brother claims it was three times in total! What was remarkable was that she smacked him twice in one day (a story for another time), and what I can say for sure is that his behaviour improved significantly during our time there.