The summer between 8th and 9th grade I convinced my mother I was too old to go to camp anymore. My mother had taken on a part-time job and was working several days a week. My dad, who was a tradesman, was working a large out-of-town construction project that kept him away from home for several weeks.

My mother was not comfortable with me being by myself at home, but she allowed me to stay with my grandparents (dad’s folks) during the days she worked, while my sister and brothers went to various camps.

While staying with my grandparents, I started hanging out with these three girls who lived in their neighborhood. These girls were my age, but definitely more advanced than I was and I guess I was trying to impress them.

Toward the end of August, with about two weeks left before school started, we went to the drug store down the street. Before we went it, one of the girls ‘dared’ all of us to each steal something from the store. We split up and, eager to impress, I wound up in the makeup aisle where coyly, I thought, I slipped several lip glosses into my purse. I didn’t realize two clerks and a security person were just waiting up front for us. One of the girls managed to dodge the posse, but three of us were caught red-handed and escorted back to the office, where, mercifully, police were not called but parents were.

My mom had to leave work to pick me up. There was stony silence on the short ride back to my grandparents, where she made me tell them what had happened. I will never forget the shame I felt confessing to them what I had done and the look of absolute anguish and disappointment on their faces. As it turned out, they were close friends with the pharmacist who owned the store, which made it feel like I had tried to steal from them. I just remember gram saying: “Why didn’t you ask us for the money?”

I felt such guilt and shame I just started crying. Mom sent me to the room where I was staying and I heard her ask my grandmother to borrow her hairbrush. When she came in to my room, she ordered me to stand up. I pulled down my shorts and panties without being told, hoping this sign of contrition and submission might make her go easier on me. It didn’t.

She sat in an armless formal chair that was in the bedroom and called me over. “You know what you did, so there really isn’t a lot to say. Get over,” she said, motioning me over her knee with the brush, an old fashioned oval-shaped mahogany wooden hairbrush.

I was relieved that there was little lecture, which was usually done with us standing with pants and underwear down while she droned on. I had gone through puberty two summers prior and had become very body conscious. Even though it was just my mom, the thought of anyone seeing my trimmed patch of dark pubic hair and my bare fair-skinned bottom deeply embarrassed me.

Without notice, the first crisp swat of the brush landed on my bare behind. I counted out the swat, something she always required during our spankings.  Mom spanked in groups of 12 swats. At this age, two dozen was usual and three dozen not unheard of. I knew with the magnitude of what I had done, we would likely fly past 24 swats. My intuition turned out to be correct, and the hairbrush met every part of my bottom and tops of my thighs 48 times.

I was relieved she was not spanking me in front of my grandparents, which I had half-expected seeing as how I had shamed them with my actions, but she left the door open. My involuntary yelps, ouches and owwws, as well as the audible count I was keeping and the unmistakable crack of a wooden brush on a bare bottom, wafted down the hall to the living room.

When she was finished, she told me to stand up and she pointed to a corner in the bedroom, where I stood, bare bottom, for 15 minutes or so while she talked with my grandparents. I ordinarily did not cry during spankings, but for this one I was a blubbering mess after it ended, more from deep remorse rather than any physical discomfort. When she came back, she told me to pull up my shorts, pack my bag and come out to apologize to my grandparents, and be quick about it. I can think of few times I have felt more shame and humiliation than saying I was sorry to my grandparents after they had heard me take that spanking, which was obviously given on my bare bottom.

On the short drive from my grandparents to home, my mother said little, except: “I hope you were not planning to leave the house the rest of the summer.”

I gave her a sullen shake of my head no.

“I’m not through with you yet. When we get home, you go upstairs and take off those shorts and underwear and bring me the strap.”

I said nothing, not out of fear that I would make it worse, but because I knew I had earned what was coming.

When we got home, I wasted no time carrying out her orders. I quickly stripped off my shorts and panties, leaving me bare from the waist down. I stopped at the hall closet and retrieved the strap, an old tool belt about 1.5 inches wide with all the pockets removed that was permanently doubled over.

She was waiting for me in the kitchen. She had moved a kitchen chair to the center of the room. This time I got the full lecture about stealing, about giving into peer pressure, about embarrassing my grandparents etc.

Then she was done and I was ordered to bend over and grab the seat of the chair. She stood behind me and without warning landed the first lick of the strap across the center of my bare bottom. It sounded like a firecracker had gone off. I felt myself thrusting forward and letting out an audible gasp, then I counted out: “One.” There was a two or three second pause, then CRACK! and then: “Two.”

I had not gotten the strap from her in a couple of years, and I had forgotten how skilled she was in making sure she covered every part of my bottom. I was taking the licks well until the eighth, which landed at the space where my thighs and bottom met. That led me to let out a howl and rise up on my toes. I endured four more to the center and bottom of my butt before she told me to stand up.

She looked at me and my eyes watered up and I started sobbing, telling her how sorry I was. It was one of the few times I ever sought out comfort and reassurance after a spanking.

She hugged me and said: “I know. I love you.”

With that, she dispatched me to the corner in the kitchen, where I stood with my flaming scarlet bottom on display for an hour. The one saving grace was that no one else was home to see me in such an undignified position.

I did not sit comfortably for a couple of days later and it took a week before the wide horizontal stripes left by the strap faded. I also was confined to the house for the rest of the summer, and each day started with a long list of chores that included dishes, laundry, dusting, sweeping, changing sheets, prepping dinner food and tedious yard work. I was never more happy for the start of school, though it was the summer I learned how to iron.