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The Spanking

The Spanking
From the PorchBy Amber Nagle
The Spanking
From the PorchBy Amber Nagle

I guess it was about 1969. I was about four, and my older brother, Andy, was about eight or nine. He had done something bad, though I can’t remember what the actual offense was. But what I do remember is that my mother was good and mad about whatever he had done, and being judge and jury of the house that day, she had sentenced my brother to a spanking.

There were three of us kids, and we were a rather rowdy bunch that sometimes required a special kind of discipline — more than simply being sent to our rooms. My parents believed in good old fashioned spankings to maintain order in the household and keep us all in line. It’s important to note here that neither of our parents “beat us into oblivion.” They spanked us with their hands mostly, though I do remember a handful of times where one of us received a weak lick from a switch or a belt.

“You are getting a spanking! You march right into that bathroom and wait for your father to get home!” Mom yelled that day. We all looked at the clock and realized that my dad would be home any minute from his job at the Air Force base.

I remember Andy shuffling into the bathroom and closing the door behind him, his face red as he held back tears. He knew that he’d done wrong, and he also knew what was in store for him when Daddy came strolling through the side door in the upcoming minutes.

Punishment didn’t always come immediately. “The waiting period” was a tactic my parents used often on us. We were told to wait and think about what we had done. That’s what we thought my brother was doing in the small, white bathroom that day — rolling his transgression around in his head to see the error of his actions. This exercise was meant to increase his morality and make him a better, more obedient young man. We would later learn that repenting for his sin was not what he was doing in there that day.

I remember standing in the kitchen in my bare feet when I heard the car door slam outside. My eyes grew as big as saucers as fear washed over me. I knew that Andy was within minutes of his spanking, and the thought of my brother (or sister) feeling physical pain made me tremble.

The door swung open and my father took his first step inside the house and quickly kissed my mother on her lips — a simple peck.

“Andy’s waiting for you in the bathroom,” my mother said, and then she summarized my brother’s crime to my father who had been at work all day and looked tired. Again, I wish I could remember what my brother had done that was so wrong. Lied? Cheated? Destroyed something? Killed someone? I don’t know.

The next thing I remember is standing in the hall on the furnace grating and watching my father turn the knob of the bathroom door. I held my breath as the door closed behind him.

But a minute later, instead of hearing crying and screaming, I heard laughter.

The door swung open and there were the two men of our house: my father with a grin on his face and my brother, who turned around revealing an unusually large derriere cloaked in denim. It was as if Andy had butt implants that day — as if he had gotten one of those Brazilian butt lifts and enlargements that are rather common these days. His rear end was freakishly large.

I was confused, but in that confusion, I heard my mother burst into laughter, and then my sister giggled, too. The mood had lightened significantly. Andy wasn’t going to die after all. He was going to live to see continued from page

another day. My brother peeled his blue jeans down exposing several wash clothes he had poked down inside his pants — a protective butt barrier that would have saved him from any pain. Instead of thinking about the error of his ways, my clever brother had used “the waiting period” to protect his tushy with layers of cloth. When my dad bent him over and saw his oversized buttocks, he couldn’t bring himself to strike him.

While the idea of corporal punishment is controversial today, my siblings and I emerged from our childhood without lasting emotional or physical scars. We are lucky. We had good parents who loved us and used an occasional slap or pat to correct our bad behaviors and help us understand right from wrong. It didn’t lead to trauma; instead, it became a part of our childhood narrative. And now, the day Andy stuffed washcloths down his jeans and averted a spanking will live on in the many family stories in my archives.

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