Thursday, September 28, 2006

My Life in Spankings

I remember six spankings. My mother, who pretty much thought I could do little wrong except get my clothes dirty or ripped when I was little and she had to wash them on a scrub board, was the only one of my parents who believed in it at all. She was nine years younger than my father (and 20 younger than my step-father) and less experienced. Once in a very great while she would reach the end of her tether, usually when I did something dangerous. Actually, I'm amazed at the patience she had, since I was always doing dangerous things. When I was four, she found me on the third story scaffolding of a building that was going up down the street. Took it like a trooper.

When I was three and she was pregnant with my brother Storm, who died when he was a few months old, I discovered that I could outrun her. We were living in a city at the time, and having me run into traffic must have almost stopped her heart. Poor Mama, when my father got home I ran out to him, calling, "Ginnie spanked me! Ginnie spanked me!" (which would seem to indicate that it wasn't the first time, since I knew he wouldn't approve) and I remember him explaining to her that she was the grown-up and surely they could figure out something to do instead. Instead was a leash. After that, when my mother and I went out alone together, I was on a leash. Good thing, too, or you wouldn't be reading this.

When I was about four, we were staying with my Grandmother Hunt while my father and Uncle Leland were doing some construction around her place. She owned a trailer park and would not allow me to play with the children who lived there, which made no sense to me, since my parents and I lived in a trailer park when we weren't staying with her. One day she caught me playing with one of the children, and when my father came in she insisted that he spank me. He took me out to the tank house, and my mother could hear the spanking and screaming clear into the house. Since he didn't believe in spanking, she thought he must have lost his mind, and came out to save me. When she got closer she heard Whack. Scream. Then, laughter. She looked in the window and saw that I was sitting on his lap while he hit a chair with his belt and after each hit, I screamed. The laughter explains itself. My grandmother felt so sorry for me she spoiled me for a week.

Number three was a humdinger. My mother was terrified. In 1945, Storm had died, and then in early 1948 Forrest, who was seven months old, got pneumonia and almost died, and barely two months after that my father died. We were staying with my grandparents, and in the course of two weeks I had managed to fall into the irrigation canal and sit on a nail. On this particular day I was up in the apricot tree right outside the kitchen door, eating green apricots. I was strictly forbidden to do this, as Mama believed that green fruit would make me sick. It never did, and to this day I love mildly green apricots, but that was the theory and she was the mother. She came out into the yard to call me in for lunch, and stood right under the tree I was in while waiting for me. Of course, I didn't dare come out of the tree. After she had called me for a good 20 minutes and was getting hysterical (I wasn't feeling any too calm myself), my grandfather told her to go inside, he would get me. She went barely inside the kitchen door, keeping an eye on the yard. Grandpa walked toward the front of the house, calling, "Peanut, do you want to go with me to change the water?" I was down out of that tree like a shot, Mama saw me and was on me before my grandfather could turn around, and I remember my grandmother screaming, "Percy, stop her! She's going to kill that child!" Grandpa dealt with Mama and my grandmother scooped me up and handed me off to my two aunts, who hid me until Mama calmed down.

Number four was another that I never received. We only stayed with my grandparents a few months, and then my mother's sister, Florence (on whose 18th birthday I was born) came to live in the trailer and help my mother support and raise Forrest and me. I'm not sure what I had done that day, but it may have been lighting the fire under the trailer. (The woman who took care of us while Mama and Aunt Flossie were at work had turned me outside of her trailer for the day as soon as they left and didn't feed me lunch, so I got some bacon from our trailer and was getting ready to cook it for myself when another neighbor stopped me. [We were cared for by someone else from then on.]) Since my mother had so little experience with spanking, she and Flossie had this conference trying to figure out how to do it, and since they had usually gotten my grandfather's razor strop, and they didn't have a razor strop, they decided to use an ironing cord, which they proceeded to try out on each other and decide it was too awful to use on me.

Next time I was nine. I had been away to boarding school, only returning to live with my mother when she remarried. The thing about boarding school -- you don't have to come right home after, because you live there. Which my mother didn't figure out, and when, on my first day at public school, I didn't come home from school until about 15 minutes before my step-father got home from work, she was worried to a fare-thee-well and the minute I came in promised me that he was going to spank me as soon as he got home. Poor man! They must have been married all of three weeks and he comes home to the news that he is spanking the child he's trying to establish a relationship with. He told my mother he wouldn't make her a liar this time, but he didn't believe in spanking and he wasn't going to do it again. And then he took the switch she had brought in and tried to spank me. Except that I wasn't used to it, I knew he didn't want to do it, I didn't believe I deserved it, and so I kept moving. I ran in and around and through his legs; he got welts, I didn't even get hit.

When I was ten and Forrest was five, we were playing with Colleen who was about four months old, and I was holding her on his back so he could give her a horsey back ride and we dropped her. I took that one like a good little soldier.

18 comments:

Py Korry said...

Ouch! I was spanked way more than you, but unlike you, I really can't remember why I got it with the belt, a hair brush, hand, or Hot Wheels track.

Autumn's Mom said...

My favorite is your father giving you a pretend spanking. I remember the day I told my mom her hand spankings didn't even hurt. What a dummy I was.

Ginnie said...

You've got a great memory. I can't even conjure up being that young. Glad you made it through...or I wouldn't be enjoying your blogs!

Melissa said...

I can believe you remember each one so clearly....although I was only spanked once and I remember it too. I too am amazed that you made it through childhood. ;)

Joy Des Jardins said...

It was very similar in our house at it was in yours J. My dad NEVER even thought of spanking my brother or I. Honestly, we never really gave him much reason to even get angry. But, my mother, on the other hand was hot tempered and emotional. She was the one who spanked us. I don't remember specifics, but it didn't seem to take much for her to swat at us. She and my dad had totally different views on disciplining children. My brother and I are more like my father regarding this...and in general. My mom mellowed fairly early in my childhood as far as spankings went...I'm sure my dad had something to do with that.

jay lassiter said...

i never got a whippin' i didn't deserve. and i am not saying that in a denial sort of way. mom and dad used a spanking as a form of punishment and i really believed them when they said "this is going to hurt me a lot more than it hurts you."

I still believe that.

fact is, me and my brother knew which offenses would warrent a spanking. the terms were all negotiated ahead of time. If i breached the contract with my folks and lied to them or behaved obnoxiously or overtly disrespectfully, then i got spanked.

If i had kids, i would probably do the same. But I don't, so i don't know.

J said...

Well, you've told me I was swatted once, when I was starting to walk into the crosswalk against a red light, cars coming. Got the loud swat on my plastic pants (those are old time diaper covers, whippersnappers), and a loud "NO!" from you. I cried, you've said. I guess it made an impression, because I didn't cross against a red for many years. But honestly, I don't remember it. Then again, if I was still in diapers, I was pretty young. ;)

Betty said...

My mother also meted out the spankings. Daddy just couldn't bring himself to do it. Anyway, I had to participate in my own punishment by going to the back yard and picking out a suitable switch. It had to be the right size and have a couple of leaves poking out of the top. Boy, did that sting!

kenju said...

I had many more spankings and "switchings" than that, and I never took it like a trooper, not matter what the reason for the punishment. You brought back some memories - but not good ones.

Ally Bean said...

I was spanked but don't remember much about it. You have a very good memory for the details of your childhood. It makes for fun reading.

lorettambeaver said...

I know I was spanked, not often, but most of them I know I deserved. I did have a brother that would blame me for things he did, and so some of them were not deserved. But I guess that is life. I really don't remember the occassions, so maybe that wasn't such a learning lesson for me! You think?

Tracy said...

I love that when your Dad was giving you fake spankings, he was holding you on his lap. It's as if he was letting you in on the joke and reassuring you with his presence all at once. He sounds like a good man.

Anna said...

I was pretty naughty & usually got my come-uppance from Mum who had a short fuse. Gran's swift justice was the worst - a two-handed flick with the drying-up towel on the leg. Ouch. I don't blame them in the slightest.

You do write a vivid memory piece with such a good recall of detail. And your family names are so unusual - Storm, Leland, Forrest.

Anvilcloud said...

Amazing memory. I can remember two and the reasons, but I'm sure there were more.

Deja Pseu said...

My mom was pretty abusive. I remember being spanked with a fly swatter on the bare bottom, and also being slapped across the face a lot. I really don't remember what they were for, but had the sense that a lot of the time it was happening because my mother was frustrated and needed to take out her rage on someone.

I don't remember my dad spanking us much, though I do remember one time. We were going for a walk while my mom was at the dentist. He asked me which way I wanted to go, and I pointed in one direction. He said, "we went that way last time, which way do you want to go, this way (pointing in the direction I'd just pointed) or that way (pointing in the opposite direction)?" Erroneously believing I was being given a choice, I went with my original preference. He grabbed me right there on the street, turned my over and whacked me on the bottom. I was 14 years old.

Maya's Granny said...

I had no idea this post would elicit such memories from people! My favorite, also, was my father giving me the fake spanking.

I'm sure that I remember them so well because they were so rare, and as you may have noticed, most of them didn't connect or, like when I came down from the apricot tree, were pretty dramatic but interupted.

Anna, my father was Roland, and I'm Joycelyn, so we do run to unusual names.

Anonymous said...

I was spanked like the way your mom did when you ate the green apricots. My Nana went crazy cuz I ate raw bread dough, and chased me with a switch. My auntie Gertrude and auntie Helene saved me by locking me in the bathroom with Aunt Helene.

Anonymous said...

I have a few memomarable spankings given to me by my dear mother. What she said went, I learned very early not to disobey. On one occasion I was about 5 years old and the class in school was going on a trip. This was the class accross from me they were taking a camping trip that would be arriving the following day. Well I made my way into that crowd and got on the bus,somehow they did not know I was missing in my class. When my mother came to pick me up. They could not find me. Well my mother was told I was on that camping trip and will be back the next day. My mother picked me up the next day and we'll let's just say my mother roasted my bare bottom. She put me over her knees and gave me the spanking of my life I screamed for mercy but she continued giving me swats with a leather belt. It took 2 days for me to sit but I never tried that escapade again.