A typical school paddling described. Kindly supplied by Megan L

I managed to stay out of the Vice Principal’s office throughout my tenth and eleventh grades. It was partly because I was growing out of my ‘getting into trouble’ phase, partially because I was getting better at not being caught and just plain being lucky, and also because the very few times I could have gotten into trouble, I managed to (sweet) talk my way out of it.

The two VPs at my high schools were both male and I think they were both prone to believing a story being told by a girl, especially if that girl had good grades and a fairly good record. I’m sure a pretty smile and pretty figure didn’t hurt the girl’s case either. I think the fact that my mother worked for the school district also helped my credibility some too.

In my senior year, one of the male VPs retired and a new VP was hired. Ms Davis was short in stature and in temper and always looked like she was in a bad mood. Sometime in early November I had gotten too many Tardies in one of my classes and had been written up. My slip ended up in the hands of the male VP, who let me off with a warning after I promised not to be late again. Somehow she must have found out about it, because it seems like that was about the time I really got the impression she didn’t like me. One day I was walking to class and passed her in the hallway and she said: “Don’t be late for class, Miss Hill. I don’t want to have to see you in my office.”

Another time I had a run in with her, I was returning from lunch. Seniors were allowed to go off campus for lunch as long as their parents had filled out a form allowing it and mine had. As I approached the office building that was closest to the parking lot, I noticed there were a couple of students standing behind the building smoking. They must have heard someone come out the doors to the office because they dropped their cigarettes and darted back around the other side of the building. I walked past the point where they were standing just as Ms David came around the corner.

She could smell smoke and asked if I had been smoking. I honestly told her no and she accused me of lying. She looked at the ground at the still smoking cigs. “See, you were smoking!”

I stopped and looked down and pointed out that there were two cigarettes and said that I had smoked neither. I held out my hands and said she could smell my fingers and my breath and that she wouldn’t smell any trace of cigarettes because I was not a smoker and had never smoked a cigarette in my life.  She grabbed the “evidence” and told me to follow her into the office. Once inside, we ran into the other VP, Mr. Klein, who asked what was going on. Ms Davis said she had caught me smoking outside. I again said that I wasn’t smoking and that I never smoked and again offered my hands. She continued to argue that she had caught me and that there was no way that anyone could have slipped past her. I was going to point out that someone could have easily run around the building the other way but instead had another thought.

I got a big smile on my face and said that I could prove absolutely that neither one was mine. It had occurred to me that as I was getting out of my car at lunch, I had reapplied my lipstick. I took a piece of tissue from a box that was on a desk and blotted my lips and the tissue came away with pink lip imprints. The cigarette butts had no trace of lipstick so they couldn’t be mine.

Mr. Klein nodded and said: “She has a good point,” to which Ms Davis responded: “Then she must have seen who it was.”

I insisted I didn’t and suggested that perhaps the smokers had dropped the cigarettes earlier but they just were lying there smoldering. Just then, the bell rang and I said that I was going to be late for class if I didn’t hurry up. Ms Davis was furious but couldn’t do anything further so I went on to class.

Several months later in May, some friends of mine and I had gone off campus for lunch. We had been discussing the possibility of skipping classes one afternoon and it was getting closer to finals and graduation. None of us had anything really important to do and I figured I could just go home and tell my parents that I was feeling very sick after lunch for my story. We were at a local pizza place, had already finished lunch, and were just talking and trying to decide what we were going to do that afternoon. I decided to try to beat the high score in a new Galaga video game that was near the front door while the other girls debated what to do next. I had been playing the game for several minutes and heard one of my friends say: “Jenny!” But I ignored her.

A few seconds later, I heard the door open and then a voice say: “It looks like you aren’t going to make it to class on time, Jennifer Hill.”

I looked up and saw Ms Davis standing there.

“Hello,” I said and looked back to finish the game, fighting the urge to look around for my friends.

“Skipping today?” She asked.

“No. I just lost track of time playing the game. I’m going to head back right now.” I lost concentration and my last ship was blown up.

“Where are your friends?” She asked, looking around. “Everyone left already?”

I looked at the clock and pretended to wince. “Oh. I guess they are all back in class by now. Sorry I missed the time.”

Then a somewhat lengthy debate ensued. She insisted that I was planning to skip with a group of friends and demanded their names. I insisted that I was just late going back to class and was alone. Fortunately, a waitress at the restaurant who had only graduated high school a year or two earlier and who was very cool with my friends and I overheard the conversation and backed me up.

“Her friends left nearly a half hour ago. She is the last one left.”

I smiled but Ms Davis wasn’t satisfied. She told me to wait there and rushed off into the Ladies Room to see if she could catch my friends in hiding. While she was gone, the waitress told me my friends had gone out the back when they saw her walking up. I paid the bill and gave a big tip and was all smiles when Ms Davis returned.

“Why don’t you ride with me back to the school?” She said, but I shook my head.

“I have my car and will follow you..” I noticed she frowned at the comment. “…or lead the way.”

A few minutes later, I was back at school and in the main office. Once there, she was about to start badgering me for the names of my co-conspirators when her admin reminded her that she had a meeting in a few minutes. I was sent back to class with a threat that we hadn’t finished our conversation. At that point, I knew I would probably get into trouble for having too many Tardies to my 4th period class but was pretty sure I wouldn’t get into trouble for anything else. I expected that I would get called down to the office the next day at 2nd Period and follow the normal routine. With luck, Mr. Klein would be overseeing things and I would get away free yet again.

My last class of the day was a gym class and by then I had already confirmed that all of my friends had made it back to class. A couple had been marked tardy but others had slipped into class unnoticed altogether. I was only a little surprised when Ms Davis herself walked into the gym to find me. We went back to the office building and into her office.

Once there, she again tried to get me to admit that I was going to skip class with a group of friends and to give up their names. I stuck to my story.

She then said that I was in violation of several rules: Skipping class, being late to a single class too many times, being off campus outside of the lunch hour, and insubordination for not cooperating with her and giving the other names.

I argued that she couldn’t count me as skipping and being late because if I had skipped, I wouldn’t have been late at all and since I was late, I couldn’t be counted has having skipped class.

She ignored my logic and said that normally I would have received a three day suspension, but since it would conflict with finals she would have to come up with another disciplinary action. She then threatened to keep me from walking the stage for graduation and I naturally protested and said that relatives from out of state were already planning to visit. She then informed me she had already called my mother and discussed the matter with her.

I wanted to ask her if she had already done that, then why was she wasting time by discussing things now. Instead, I kept my mouth shut for a change and just listened.

Ms Davis said my mother agreed with her that I had intended to skip and that I should be punished for it and that I should be punished for being off campus during restricted times. My off-campus lunch pass would be cancelled for the rest of the year and in order not to interfere with my finals or graduation, I would get paddled instead. She said that normally she would have given three swats for skipping and three for being off campus but the most she could give at any one time was five so that was what I would get. I was somewhat surprised that she didn’t say that she was going to give me three today and three next day.

At that point, I said: “Fine. Let’s get it over with.”

She then lectured me about my attitude and that if I was planning to succeed in college and the “real world”, then I would have to shape up and change my attitude. Blah blah blah. She finally stopped talking and went to get her admin as a witness.

For accuracy’s sake and because I’m sure some of you will ask, I wish I could remember what I was wearing at the time. I can’t. Normally, I would have been in my gym clothing already by the time she showed up in my last class but since it was so late in the year, I seem to recall that we weren’t “suiting up” for gym but were just wearing normal clothing for the last week or so and they allowed us to study for finals. I had been wearing a light summer dress that day because it was already hot outside. I think that was what I was wearing while I was in the office. Shorts or skirt, I didn’t have much in the way of protection. Once Ms Davis had brought in the admin, she again explained I would be getting 5 swats and then went around her desk to produce the paddle from behind her desk. She made it a point to tap it against her palm in front of me before circling around her desk.

“Bend over the desk with your elbows resting on the desk and eyes forward.”

I quickly moved into position.

“Bend more at the waist. I know this isn’t your first time,” she said condescendingly.

I huffed and bent over further, wishing the old bat ill will. She seemed to take her time getting into position and I could still hear her tapping her hand with the paddle as she waited.

Finally, the tapping stopped and she said: “5 swats. Stand bending over until they are all finished.”

WHAP!

The paddle hurt but I bit my lip determined not to let out a sound.

WHAP!

The second blow seemed harder than the first. She definitely had used it before and she wasn’t going easy on me.

WHAP!

The pain was starting to build, especially on my right cheek but I was determined not to cry out loud. I could feel my eyes watering a bit which just made me madder at myself.

WHAP!

Another very hard swat. Still not a peep from me.

There was a long pause before… WHAP!

The last and hardest of them all. I rocked a bit on my toes and sucked in air through my clinched teeth but still didn’t cry out. I clinched my fists and fought the urge to grab my behind and stood straight up. I wiped away a tear in each eye and blinked before turning around.

She again lectured me and warned me not to skip or be late to classes and repeated that I was confined to campus for lunch for the remainder of the year. Despite it feeling like my behind was on fire, I just stood there and waited until she finally stopped talking and sent me back to class. When I got home, my mother grounded me for the next two weeks until after graduation. She couldn’t ground me longer because I started college that summer in another city.

Jenny H