One time, when I was about seven, my older cousin Emma, then eleven, earned herself a spanking. In front of my mother and me, my aunt instructed her to get across her lap.

There ensued a teary: “Please, Mommy, can w-we do th-this in my r-room?” but one determined: “No, Emma, we will do it right here,” and my cousin’s hands reached for the hem of her sundress. She raised it and with no further instruction laid herself across my aunt’s lap.

Emma looked over at me, blushing to be sure, but with no trace of resentment that I would be watching. It was almost as if she felt sorry for me having to witness her suffering. Despite our age difference we were very close and loved each other. For my part I remember hoping she could sense my profound sorrow and sympathy and only wanting to be a comfort to her. She forced a little smile at me, as if to tell me it would be okay. Tears clouded my eyes as I nodded toward her and made a silent prayer.

A few seconds later my aunt raised her right hand and brought it down with a resounding smack on the smooth white cotton clad bottom. Twenty-five times that slender, aristocratic hand would rise and fall, smacking the errant bottom soundly, turning it ever darker shades of red. After a half dozen, I observed my cousin begin to sob quietly. At fifteen, Emma’s cries were unmistakable and I felt my heart breaking. Then came my cousin’s dirge of guilt; promising never again to disobey and to be a ‘really good girl’.

During the last five spanks my cousin cried very hard. Then, the spanking over, my aunt gently helped her off of her lap and gave her a hug and whispered something in her ear. Emma turned to us and, tears streaming down her face, apologized for being a bad girl and disturbing our visit. My aunt gave her permission to go to her room to finish her crying.

“Emma, would, would you like me to come with you,” I heard myself offer.

My older cousin looked at me and nodded.

“I’d li-like that very much,” she sniffed. “I really would.”

Looking over at my mother and my aunt, all I could see were broad smiles and encouraging nods. I stood up, walked over to my cousin and took her hand in mine. And hand in hand we walked upstairs to her room. It was a powerful lesson to me about taking a spanking like a big girl.