I’ve written before about my first two slipperings, which were delivered by my father at the ages of ten and eleven. My third experience of corporal punishment came about six months later and was delivered by my aunt.
My brother, Felipe, and I were staying with her, as our parents had gone away for the weekend to celebrate their wedding anniversary. If you can call what happened an overreaction, as I do, and did at the time, the stress of managing two unruly eleven-year-olds for my aunt, who was quite a bit older than her brother, my dad, perhaps explains it.
We had to share a room at her place, which we didn’t like at first. But as we sat up late talking, there was a lot of giggling and laughter. Twice, my aunt knocked on the door and told us to be quiet, which was fair enough as her room was next to ours. At last, she commanded silence on pain of punishment. We made it about five minutes before the door flew open again.
“The talking is bad enough. But the language I hear coming out of you two children is a disgrace!”
We blushed. We’d been swearing like sailors and not even realising it. We didn’t swear in front of our parents, but we’d let our filters down at our aunts place.
“Your father gave me full permission to punish you as I see fit. You’ll be returning to bed with sore bottoms tonight. Downstairs, both of you.”
In silence, we sloped down the stairs and followed our aunt into the living room.
“Wait there.” She disappeared into the kitchen. A moment later, she was back with a flat, wide wooden spoon. Felipe’s eyes widened, and my heart began to beat against my ribs.
“Who is first?” She asked.
My brother stepped forward, and I was impressed with the dignity with which he comported himself. There was no childish crying or begging. He stepped forward with his head held high and volunteered to go first.
“I won’t humiliate you by letting you see each other in a state of undress. Mireia, wait in the kitchen.”
I went to the kitchen but, of course, I kept the door open just a crack and peeked through. I watched as my brother was told to remove his pyjama bottoms and kneel on the sofa, which my aunt had aligned with another chair. The sofa arm and the chair arm were together and, draped over the arms, your bottom would be pushed up and exposed. I watched through the crack of the door as Felipe obeyed, again with impressive calm and dignity. I hoped I would keep my cool so well.
My aunt raised the spoon and began to smack Felipe’s bottom with it. She raised her arm high and brought it down hard and fast, again and again, and he trembled on each impact.
I’d quickly seen enough, pulled the door to and sat at the kitchen table, aghast at what was to come for me. The sound was awful. Crack, crack, crack, so many whacks. I began to watch the clock, and only then did I realise how late it was. It was nearly half past two. No wonder our aunt had been annoyed at us for making noise.
For five long minutes, I heard my aunt belabour poor Felipe with that spoon and, his resolve broken, I heard him cry out, “Ow! Ow! Ow!” near the end.
At last, the sound stopped, and I heard my aunt say, “Fetch your sister.”
Felipe came in, limping, his eyes wet with tears and clutching his rear end.
“Go on,” was all he managed to say.
I entered the living room, my heart about to burst. There was a lump in my throat and I willed myself not to cry.
“Right, there is no favouritism in this house. You will be treated the same as your brother. Pyjamas off, and I want you bent over these arms on your knees.” And she tapped the chair arms with the spoon.
I untied the cord around my waist and lowered my pyjamas, praying Felipe was not doing as I had done and watching me in my humiliation. I also realised something; Those pyjamas would not have given much protection against the thick spoon. The act of baring myself was a part of the punishment. It was symbolic, a submission. I felt sick with nerves, as I climbed onto the sofa and lowered my stomach onto the chair arms. I noted that this position was, at least, more comfortable than standing on my feet, bent over the kitchen table.
“Five minutes of this should clean out your mouth,” she said grimly.
The spoon struck my left buttock, then my right. The first blows were not really painful. They were striking fresh flesh. But after about 90 seconds, every inch of my bottom had been smacked and the blows continued to rain down. The strokes on flesh that had already been hit hurt a lot, yet still they continued, as if another layer of paint had to be applied.
At last, I cried out in pain, something I’d never done while being slippered. The blows on already bruised flesh were just too much. Tears welled up and I remember saying, “Please, enough.”
There was to be no mercy. I guess it was five minutes she beat me for, but I was in too much pain to really think by the end. It was agonising. My bottom felt as I imagined it would were it to be skinned.
At last, it was over. She let me rise and dress and called Felipe in. My brother entered, and now I was the emotional one and he had time to calm down. He was, however, still clutching his bottom.
“Back to bed. Not one word out of you til morning,” said my aunt.
As soon as I was in bed, I burst into tears. The punishment, I felt, had been excessive for the crime. A few smacks for swearing might have been in order, but this was a serious beating. Felipe agreed, for he was not tearful but angry. I heard him muttering curses under his breath, and he later furiously complained to dad. Of course, father took his sister’s side.
It was the last time we ever swore at our aunt’s house, but not the last time we were to be punished.
Felipe was the next of us to be slippered, for an incident at school I had nothing to do with. Although I did not witness his thrashing directly, I heard it all right. It was severe, more severe than the first one. I sat on my bed and listened from my room as the slipper strikes resounded through the otherwise silent house. I winced at each one, for I loved my brother and hated to hear him suffering. I know there are siblings that take a malicious pleasure in hearing their brother or sister punished, but I didn’t feel that way. I actually lost count of the number of strokes he received. It was more than twenty for sure. When it was over, he raced to his room and shut the door. I knocked and offered to come in and comfort him but he told me he wanted to be alone.
The next slippering had my name on it. Felipe and I were eleven, and just over a year had passed since our first experience over the kitchen table. To cut a long story short, I had a fight in school. It was with a girl called Pilar who, for some reason, had taken it into her head to be mean to me that week. She’d called me names. She’d started giggling when I was speaking in front of class. She’d drawn on my notebook. At lunchtime, she cut in front of me in the lunch queue and that was the final straw. I pushed her out of the way. She reacted, pushing me back and we fought. Kids, and trays, went flying, but we were totally oblivious, hitting and kicking each other.
Of course, we were only eleven-year-old girls and it was not difficult to prise us apart. We were marched directly to the school director’s office and our parents were called and told we were suspended for the afternoon. My mum came and picked me up and she did NOT look happy.
I spent the afternoon in my room. I was torn. I was partly proud that I had stood up for myself. I was partly angry with Pilar for winding me up. And, of course, I was nervous about what my punishment would be.
Felipe had heard of the incident at school, of course, and when he got home he told me he was proud of me. He also warned me that my punishment was likely to be a thrashing, which I had guessed.
Sure enough, my dad came home from work. Mum had called him at work, so he knew the whole story. He did, to be fair, allow me to explain my side of the story.
He listened calmly, and then told me that I should have walked away and told a teacher. How easy it is for adults to say things like that when they don’t have to face the other kids!
My father told me to fetch the slipper from the green box in his bedroom closet. He also told Felipe to go to his room. As my brother closed his door, he whispered to me “Good luck,” which I really appreciated. When I had the slipper, I stopped off in my bedroom to resignedly remove my knickers, knowing I had no chance of keeping them on downstairs.
“Right, young lady. Ten swats for fighting at school. Same position as before. Don’t move.”
I bent over the table, and braced myself. It wasn’t as comfortable a position as the previous year. I was taller. I spared my dad the trouble and pulled my dress up to expose my bottom.
Crack! The first swat landed, terrifically hard. It stung and I remember wishing that Felipe was there too. We’d been punished together age ten and having someone sharing the experience had been comforting. This time, with my bottom receiving my dad’s undivided attention, it felt lonelier.
I gasped as the second stroke landed right where the first had. It was getting hot back there and no mistake. The sound echoed around the house. There was no way my brother wouldn’t be able to hear it. The fourth stroke landed higher, near my spine. My bottom was, shall we say, feeling very much alive at this point.
The slipper was hurting far more than I’d imagined it ever could. Perhaps my memory was playing tricks but this felt much worse than the first time. I closed my eyes. Stroke number six struck hard and low, and this time the floodgates opened. I began to cry. My dad saw my shoulders shaking and paused.
“Get on with it, please,” I whimpered.
The next was right across the middle of my stinging bum. I was crying, but my dad was not easing up. He was really going for it and striking me as hard as he could. Just a second later, I closed my eyes and tried to think of something else to take my mind off it, sort of tune out of the experience until it was over. I tried to imagine myself lying on the beach, but it didn’t work so I tried picturing Pilar bent over her kitchen table.
The next was so hard I was thrown forward and any illusion was shattered. I was still, unmistakably, being spanked. The last one landed with as much force as any of the others. The slipper had left the skin of my bottom feeling like I’d held it close to a fire for ten minutes.
I have only a dim memory of my dad giving me permission to stand. I slouched up to my room and closed the door to have a good cry.
Half an hour later, my brother knocked and I put a dressing gown on and let him in. He’d brought me some sweets and we hugged. I told him about the slippering and he told me, for the first time, what his second one had been like. He told me his bottom had been so sore he’d been unable to sit for two days. We agreed that we would try to make it the last time the dreaded black slipper appeared.
Alas, it was not to be.
Yes, the slipper should, in my view, be brought back in schools. It is a serious punishment, but it is more humane than the cane, the reintroduction of which I would not support. I believe the pain and physical damage the cane causes is excessive for any ‘crime’ the standard school child commits. Judicial corporal punishment for serious crimes in society might be a different matter.