My mother was a teenager when I was born and for some personal reasons, I ended up living with my dad and my grandparents. When I was two, my daddy started dating my bio mom’s twin sister. Look, we’re from small town North Carolina, we’re rednecks born and raised, I won’t lie.
She looks like my bio mom and therefore I look nearly identical to her. I’m small, with long blond curly hair, and it led to a lot of teasing all through school. The other boys said I looked girly, so Daddy taught me to fight. I got Daddy’s hazel eyes, though – as well as his temper and reckless streak.
His wife Janine is a short woman. Her hair is always bleach fried with dark roots, and she keeps it tied back or in a messy bun. She always has on a little too much eyeliner, and boy, she is always ready to fight! Don’t get me wrong. She’s not trashy loud or anything, she’s actually really sweet and fun – until you piss her off or mess with her family. We might be poor country rednecks, as I said, but Mama don’t smoke and barely drinks, she’s about as classy as she can be around here.
So she met when I was two (and she not quite 20) and soon after that I started calling her Mama and she just sort of took me on as her own. Grandma showed her how to take care of a kid but she was a natural. This was back in the days when kids drank water from the hose and swam naked in ponds. I didn’t have video games, a cell phone or a laptop until I was in my teens.
We also got spanked when we got out of line. I am very familiar with the spoon, the switch, the belt and the paddle, both at home and school. Grandpa made a paddle years before for my uncles, and it was used on my own behind before I even started school.
I don’t remember my first spanking but Grandma tells me said it was for throwing food at he. It was for the same reason that I got my first from Janine.
However, the first time Janine really wore my butt out was when me and my friend Shane decided to bully this other kid in first grade. Mama got called into the school along with those of Shane and the kid we had been bullying. When Mama found out that I had been teasing this other boy to tears, she spun me around on a dime and spanked me right in front of everyone in the room – and whoever was in the hall passing by, seeing as the door was open.
I’m not sure which was warmer, my backside or my face. When I got home, Daddy and I had a long talk about bullying and I spent some time facing the corner feeling sorry for myself. But I never even thought to bully another kid, and I ended up making friends with the other boy and we still are even today.
When I was 14, Mama moved in with her own mother because her own father had died. About the same time she and my dad broke up, although they stayed friends and he came around a lot. He was on call any time to handle me if I got too far out of line, which was rare actually.
During the summer, while Mama was dealing with her dad’s death and the move, I stayed with my grandparents. Around that time, I got into trouble with regard to drugs – and I don’t mean smoking weed behind the house. Let’s leave it at that.
Unsurprisingly, Mama was furious about it. She eventually forgave me but was determined it wouldn’t happen again. She enrolled me in the high school down the street at the end of summer. It was within walking distance of the house so I got to hang out with some other kids from the neighbourhood who walked to and from school.
The rule was that if I was late, I had to call Mama and she was usually OK with me going to friends’ houses or to the park to play basketball. She wasn’t even super-upset when I got detention the first week of school for being ‘late to class’. Actually, that’s what I told her it was for – in truth, my friend Daniel and I had been skipping school entirely.
Anyway, it got close to Halloween and the first progress reports came out. We got them last period and I looked at mine. Immediate fear shot through me – I had Ds all the way down. There was also a note attached, listing several missing assignments and mentioning the three days I had missed unexcused. There was also a note, warning me the school would be calling my parents that night.
My face white as I sheet, I folded the report up again and stuck it in my backpack. Daniel looked across at me as he tucked his own report away in his book bag.
“Bad, huh?” I answered: “I’m dead! Mama’s gonna chain me to my room. I can’t believe I messed up this bad – no-one has said anything to me about my grades being bad or nothing.” I looked across at Daniel – I was starting to feel an anxiety attack coming on.
“Look,” he said, “it’s just a report, not the real thing. Nothing to worry about.” Daniel stood up as the bell rang and I followed him out. Yeah, easy for him to say.
We stopped to talk to friends and mess around, because I already knew it was gonna be the last time I could for a while. I lost track of time, though, and it was getting dark; it would be full-on night before I got to the house. Also, the wind was picking up and lightning flashed in the distance. There was a storm coming in, and fast.
Daniel pointed at a sign at the side of the road. “The fair’s next week. Wanna go? We should get free tickets for it from school. “Yeah,” I agreed. “Maybe we can get Meredith and Casey to go with us.” Daniel nodded and rubbed his chin. “Why didn’t I think of that?”
We paused for a minute to get a sip of Mountain Dew, and my eyes fell on a tree along the side of the road. More specifically, I noticed a nice green switch growing out the side. My heart stopped – I knew mama was gonna send me out to get one like it as soon as she got that call and I figured I had better go get it now, because I did not want to be out in the dark in the cold rain searching round the house for one. I yanked the thin branch off the tree.
Daniel watched me silently. “What the heck are you doing, man?” “Mama is gonna want this and I ain’t searching in the dark for it,” I said as we walked along.
Well, Daniel had known me since we lived in the other house, so he was no stranger to me picking a switch from the woods behind the house. He’s waited on the porch while I was in the corner and he’s heard and even seen me get my butt tore up by mama and daddy a few times, and vice versa. Then we’d go right back to playing – it wasn’t that uncommon really for kids around here, back in the day.
“You do know you’re a teeanager now?” Daniel said as we walked on. “You’re a little too old for spankings – and you don’t have to let her.” I laughed dryly, as we walked and I stripped the switch clean. “You go on ahead and tell her that – you’ve met her! Me, I choose life! A few stripes ain’t gonna kill me.” Daniel walked me home then carried on three houses to his own. I went in the front door. This house was laid out weird. Mama took over the living room as her room because the front door was right there, my room was off to the side of hers to the left. The room off to the right was her moms, and then there was a kitchen and the bathroom was on a closed in back porch- the house was 100 years old easily.
I walked in just as the thunder and lightning hit and Mama was on the bed with her notebook and calendar. She had lost her job because this town is slowly going broke and now she books bands in several bars around here. She looked up and laid her stuff aside.
“Just where the hell have you been?” Yep, she’s already pissed. “Has anybody called?” I asked quickly – my anxiety was getting to me and my stomach hurt. “Other than a promoter a few minutes ago, no. Why?” She glanced at the caller ID across the room to see if it was flashing a new call.
I abruptly handed her the switch, “Here, you’re gonna need this.” She looked at it, then at me as I headed to my room, which required me walk across hers. “What the hell have you done, Matthew?”
The phone beside her bed rang – perfect timing. I shut my door so I could change, but yelled over my shoulder: “You’re about to find out!” “I swear to God,” she muttered, then picked up the phone. “Hello?”
I changed into a T-shirt and boxer shorts and sat on my bed, waiting. The rain was falling now against the window, occasionally illuminated by lightning. My window overlooked the side yard and the neighbour’s house. The room was warm and I was feeling clammy.
I could hear Mama talking on the phone in the next room and with every ‘mmhmm?’ I can feel my stomach tightening. I prayed she wouldn’t call Daddy about this.
Eventually, the door opened. “Let me see that report,” she said simply. I passed it to her. She read it for a while, left the room for a moment then brought it back, signed.
“So you lied about getting in trouble for being late to class and you were skipping? You’ve also been lying about your work being done. Nice to know I ain’t gonna be able to trust you.” “Mom, it’s just a progress report…” I began. “This is how it starts – we’re gonna get this right, and I mean now,” she said sternly. I could feel chills on my arms at her tone.
“First of all, you ain’t going nowhere but school and home till all this work is done. Understood?” I nodded, looking down at my bare feet, just like all the times before. “Yes, ma’am.”
“We are gonna discuss these grades later. Right now, we’re going to address this lying and not doing what you’re supposed to be.” She turned and reached through the bedroom door to get the switch lying on her desk. “You know the drill!”
I stood up slowly – it was finally happening. I turned around and bent over, my hands on the bed. I felt Mama beside me, her hand on my back. It had been a while since I’d had a spanking, and I dreaded it. The only mercy was that since I turned 12, she no longer whipped me bare bottom.
Nevertheless, that first lick was pure fire across my ass – my boxers weren’t thick enough to block a thing. Suddenly, there’s a hot red stripe on my rear end. She whipped my bottom methodically as I desperately tried to stay still, knowing that any struggling might see the switch land on my bare legs, which would be even more painful. I balled my fists in the bed clothes to stop myself from putting a hand back and getting not only a swish across there, but extra strokes to boot.
I was standing on tiptoe, teeth clenched. I tired to fight back the tears but still quite a few escaped. I’m no longer keeping count of the strokes but she must have given me a couple of dozen. I was trying to take it like a man but I was losing that battle.
It took me a few seconds to realise that she was done. My mind was registering nothing but the red hot stripes across the cheeks of my young backside.
I realised Mama had moved away and put the switch on the windowsill, and I stood up. My hands went back instantly to cover my seared bottom, but I knew better than to rub. I knew from experience that rubbing welts would make them hurt worse and itch like hell.
Standing there holding my very sore butt in my hands, trying to catch my breath and hold in the tears, I felt about eight rather than 14. By now I was as tall as Mama herself but she still scared me.
She gave me a minute to rub and squirm a bit, then came over and tenderly touched shoulder. “Why don’t you take out the trash and take a shower before supper? I think the chicken and dumplins are ready and we’ll watch wrestling tonight.”
“OK, but first…” I threw my arms around her, burying my face into her shoulder to cry, She held me lovingly. “I’m sorry, Mama. I…” “Ssh! It’s OK.” She ran her fingers through my curly blond hair. “I love you, Matt –I always will. You messed up, that’s all. We’ll figure out these grades as we go. If you need tutoring…” I pulled away and wiped my face on my shirt. “I might need help with math,” I admitted.
“Oh well, that’s good. Your math teacher only lives next door.” She nodded towards my window – the window with the curtains wide open. I can see our neighbour sitting on the porch in a shawl, reading with a coffee cup in her hand. “She told me when school started that she would be glad to help if you needed anything.”
I stood there and suddenly felt the heat of embarrassment rising up my neck. How did I not remember Mrs Bartlett was our neighbour? The neighbour who without a doubt just watched me get a whuppin’ from my mama.
“Go get that shower.” “Yes, ma’am.”
I went off quickly, anxious to put some cool water over my hot backside. I caught a glimpse of my bare bottom in the mirror as I got in the shower – my buttocks were striped like a zebra. I knew I would feel it keenly sitting in class the next day, and for the next few days, if it comes to that.