By: Darlene G. Snyder
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I’ve always been a nail biter. This particular day I was gnawing on them with intensity. In line with the other second graders in my class, we waited. I don’t recall why, but we were in line to be spanked.
I do recall, that whatever the wrong, I hadn’t participated, but Mrs. Lewis, our teacher was determined to get us all – just to make sure she got the ones who were involved. Now that I think about it, she was upset over something that happened while she was out of the room.
My tiny stomach rolled. My knees trembled, and my hands never left my mouth. I dreaded the sting of the paddle and I dreaded going home. If I was spanked at school, I knew my parents would get me again, never doubting that I deserved the punishment. Not because I was a mean child or even mischievous, it’s just that my dad was a disciplinarian and wanted to keep us kids in line. He’d have to spank me again just so I’d know he wasn’t going to put up with any misbehavior at school.
That was the closest I came to a spanking at school. For some unknown or unremembered reason, Mrs. Lewis decided not to spank us. That was close. Too, close.
Spankings in school are a thing of the past. While I believe that schools should be able to punish children and spanking is one form of punishment that seemed to be effective in deterring bad behavior, in the past adults have abused this punishment.
Here is an example of a teacher abusing a student.
Mike, my husband wasn’t the only one to garner the wrath of Mrs. Ross, a third grade teacher in the elementary school he attended as a child. He was however, one of a few that she physically abused.
She kept a bottle of cough syrup in her desk. The students knew what really was in the bottle as she drank her whisky from it all during the school day. Mrs. Ross was a stout built woman with a booming voice. The more she drank from the bottle, the more she fussed and screamed at the class. One particular day, her behavior was worse than usual.
She called on Mike to solve a problem on the blackboard. When he couldn’t do what she asked, she spanked him. She asked again, and of course he couldn’t solve the problem so she spanked him again. Even if he could have, the fear and anger she instilled in him would have kept him from doing so. I don’t know at what point she stopped spanking and started beating him with the paddle turned up on the ends, but he went home all bruised and battered. He didn’t share this experience with his parents, but when his mother saw him in the tub later that night, she questioned him and he finally told her what happened. As one would imagine, his mother was so upset she went to school the next day and had to be held back because she wanted to get her hands on the teacher.
One would think that would be the end and that Mrs. Ross would’ve been escorted from the school, but she wasn’t. In fact, she made fun of Mike in front of the class, taunted him and put him away from the other students, telling them not to play with him or his mama would come and get them. How horrific. Mike said that for years he dreamed about running over Mrs. Ross with a car. Bless his little heart.
Spankings didn’t just happen in the schools, unlike many homes today, punishment was the norm. Children thought about the punishment before committing the infraction. The smell of fear interrupted many a child’s thought of misbehaving. Sometimes the smell was stronger than other times.
In my home, it was Sundays when that smell was the strongest. Mom took my sister, brother and me to church every week. We sat with her in the sanctuary since there was no such thing as Children’s Church. We sat still or as still as any three children could sit. Yes, sometimes we pinched, hit, elbowed the other and sometimes we whispered, possibly whispering louder than we thought. Mom would call us down, give us that stern look and say through clenched teeth, “Just wait until you get home!” We all knew what that meant and would sit quieter still, contemplating our fate. No amount of begging after church would release us from, gulp, the belt.
As soon as we arrive home, mom would tell dad about our unruliness. Sometimes it was before lunch, sometime we’d have to suffer through lunch, anticipating the burn from the belt. Swallowing food while knowing our doom was most difficult; if he spanked us before lunch, we’d sulk and not want to eat.
The worse part was forming the line. The three of us would line up and wait to bend over his knees for the spanking. As I remember it, he only hit a couple of times or so, but you would’ve thought he’d beat us furiously. As we stood from our bent position, the tears wet our face. If I were not the first one, as soon as the spanking began on my siblings, I’d start crying. To this day, I can still hear the sound that the belt made as it smacked against the tender skin of the backside. Even worse, I can still feel the sting.
Mom says that we never really acted that badly in church, but she says she didn’t want us to think we could get by with bad behavior. Since dad didn’t attend church with her, she tried to keep the bluff on three active children who were very close in age. Well, it worked. We were very afraid of the consequences of our behavior, knowing the outcome.
There were other spankings in my life, but the Sunday spankings are the ones that stand out the most.
If you dare, share your childhood spanking stories with me. What other forms of punishment did you receive?