In the latter years of the 20th century, spanking as a means of disciplining children was out of favour, including in my own home, and I knew only a couple of boys in our neighbourhood who were still sometimes paddled. But one day, when I was seven years old, I did end up going over my mother’s knee – but only then because I frightened her.
My older sister Carole and I and some of our friends were playing in our front yard one hot summer morning, running through the lawn sprinkler in our bathing suits. We were having a good time, chasing each other in and out of the spray in a loud game of tag – we were acting a bit wild, I guess.
I wasn’t paying attention to where I was going when someone chased me, and I dashed out into the road without looking. The next thing I knew, a loud car horn blasted behind me. It was followed by the sound of screeching brakes. When I realised how close I had come to being hit, I raced back into the yard. My mother came running from the house.
Meanwhile, the car’s driver had climbed out and was standing on the sidewalk. “I’m so sorry,” he said to Mom, “the boy ran right out in front of me and I barely stopped in time, but I don’t think he’s hurt.”
I was badly frightened, though. Mom told the man it wasn’t his fault and thanked him for being able to stop – then she grabbed me by the arm and hustled me into the house.
At the time, I didn’t really know what getting spanked meant. Carole and I were happy, well-behaved children who rarely got into trouble. Our occasional punishments were fairly mild, such as a time-out or no TV. That being the case, I didn’t know what was happening when Mom dragged me to the sofa, put me face down across her lap, and pulled my Speedo swimsuit down to my knees.
She immediately began smacking my wet bottom. “Don’t you ever run out into the road like that again!” she told me. “You know better! You scared me to death! You could have been killed!”
I was shocked and confused. Mom had never, ever hit me before and I didn’t understand why she was so upset. But the spanking didn’t last long, and then she gathered me up in her arms and held me tight. She rocked me back and forth and I burst out crying, more because of the worry in her voice than from the sting of her hand.
It was several minutes before she calmed down and wiped the tears from my face. “I shouldn’t have spanked you,” she said, “but I had to make you understand how close you came to being seriously hurt.” “I’m sorry!” I replied. I threw my arms around her neck and began to cry again. She cuddled me and rubbed my back and my tender bottom. Then I realised that she was crying too. We sat together like that for what seemed like a very long time, and when we were both feeling better, she sent me to my room to wait for lunch.
Later that day, I asked Mom if I was bad for having scared her by running out into the road. “You weren’t bad,” she said, “but you were being careless, which can be worse. Do you understand now what might have happened to you?” “I guess so,” I said. “I won’t ever do it again.” “I certainly hope not. Then I won’t ever have to spank you again.” “That’s OK,” I said. “I understand why you did it, and it only hurt for a little while.” Mom replied: “Just so long as you remember to pay attention to what’s going on around you when you’re playing outdoors from now on.”
When I thought about things later, I realised that Mom only spanked me because she really cared about my safety. The way she cuddled me afterwards felt so good that I was almost happy it had happened, and I decided I would never do anything to scare her again.
However, that promise didn’t last long. A week or so later, I was climbing trees in a vacant lot down the street and fell into some loose gravel and skinned my knee. It bled a bit, and I ran home for a Band Aid.
“Climbing trees again, weren’t you?” Mom said as she cleaned my knee and rubbed antiseptic cream on it. “You could have broken a bone or something.” “Was that being bad, like when I ran out in the road?” “No, you weren’t bad,” she said with a smile on her face, “but you have to promise to be more careful from now on.”
“You should spank me again,” I said, “so I’ll remember.” Mom looked surprised. “Would that make you feel better?” she asked. I sort of shrugged and didn’t know what to say. I knew getting spanked again would hurt, but I liked the hugging that came afterwards.
She took my hand, led me to the couch and once more put me across her lap. She patted the seat of my shorts gently for a minute or two, then let me stand up again.
But I wasn’t satisfied, and at age seven I didn’t know how to explain to her how I felt. “That wasn’t a spanking,” I said. “Do it like last time, please.” She hesitated. “OK,” she said at last, “but just remember, you asked me for this!”
She put me over her lap again and this time pulled my shorts and underpants down. I took a deep breath as she began smacking my bare skin and I tensed up, which must have raised my bottom high and round. Mom laughed and spanked harder, and my seat began to heat up and sting. I tried not to cry but couldn’t help it, even though it was exactly what I wanted.
“Are you OK?” she said when she noticed my tears. “Uh, huh,” I replied I’ll be a good boy from now on.” “You’re always a good boy,” Mom said gently. She sat me up on her lap and pulled me in close, and we snuggled together.
“You were crying,” she said. “Did I spank too hard?” I shook my head. “It was OK. It hurt but it felt good too.” I clung to her tightly and more tears came, but they were happy ones. I loved my mother so much right at that moment, and I could tell she loved me too.
As I grew older I became more mischievous and got in trouble more often. Mom would then spank me pretty hard, even sometimes with a ruler or a ping pong paddle. That always made me shape up, and I never complained – it was the kind of punishment that let me know she really cared about me and just wanted me to become a better person.
Years passed quickly, and I finished school and moved on to university. After graduating I started my teaching career, and married a wonderful girl named Monica. We’re in our 30s now and raising two boys and a girl, but we never spank them.
However, Monica and I shared lots of stories about when we were small, and when I explained how Mom handled me, she thought it might be fun to put me over her knee occasionally herself. She found out she really liked doing it, and I’ve enjoyed lots of spankings ever since.