Perhaps the saddest
memory of my childhood is of the day I was spanked three times in the space
of an afternoon - all for something I didn't do.
I got home from
school, and my friends were out in the street playing. Eager to join
them, I dashed up to my room and dropped off my bookbag. My window
was open, which was odd since I'd closed it when I left that morning.
I also noticed a burnt sulfur smell which I assumed must have blown in
from outside. Giving it no further thought, I scampered back outside
and was happily playing hopscotch when my mother appeared at the front
Christensen! You come in the house this instant!"
Her tone spelled
Big Trouble, and I felt a stab of fear as I ran up the steps, trying all
the while to think of what I might have done to incur her displeasure.
me up to my room and pointed into my wastebasket. Therein lay at
least a dozen burnt matches.
"You have been
playing with matches, in here, haven't you young lady??"
I was dumbfounded.
I hadn't been playing with matches! I had no idea how the
burnt matches had gotten there. But she wasn't buying it.
"You were doing
it just now," she said, sternly, "and don't you dare lie
to me, young lady! I can smell the smoke!"
I could smell
it, too. She then took the box of kitchen matches from
behind her back and held it before my bewildered eyes. "What was
hidden under your bed??" I had no idea. Daddy was at
the office, my younger sister Debby was at after-school field hockey practice.
No one was home except Mommy and me. I had to have done it.
Yet I hadn't!
The more I denied
and denied and offered no alternative explanation, the more her patience
wore thin, until she declared that I was in disgrace and would be punished
for my wickedness. Thunderstruck, I desperately begged her
to believe me, but her countenance froze the words in mid sentence.
It was no use.
Something so unfair
couldn't be happening. God wouldn't let Mommy punish me for
something He knew I hadn't done.
Mommy told me
to think over my misbehavior while she retired to her room for a few minutes
to seek divine guidance on how to deal with a child as rebellious and willful
as me. As she headed away down the hall, I knelt and
prayed to my Saviour to intercede on my behalf. He couldn't
let Mommy punish me! He would hear my prayers and know my
innocence! Never had the Court of Heaven heard a petition more worthy
than my own!
praying as Mommy's footsteps began coming back down the hallway to my room.
As she entered, I stood and faced the doorway expecting a miracle at any
moment. She asked once again if I was prepared to admit what I had
done and to express proper repentence. As I again protested my innocence
she cut me off and began to scold very severely, saying that I had shocked
and disappointed her by my conduct. She said she had never believed
me capable of such disobedience and duplicity and that she would look upon
me with new eyes for a long time to come. For a child who was usually
well-behaved and who tried very hard to be good most of the time, these
dreadful words ought to have pieced me to my soul. But instead of
crying, I just felt blank inside, as if it wasn't really happening.
To my mother,
my non-response must have looked like stubborn, unrepentent silence. Grimly,
she then delivered the next thunderbolt: while I had been waiting in my
room, she had prayed to God for guidance, and, "Janet, the good Lord told
me to spank you!"
How could God
believe her and not me? That couldn't possibly happen.
I felt strangely calm, as if it were all taking place in someone else's
dream, or on TV. Deep in my heart, I still knew God would intervene
at any moment to soften Mommy's heart and make her recognize my innocence.
She picked up
a hairbrush from the dresser, led me to my bedside and sat down.
Stern faced, she stood me in front of her and told me again what
a dreadfully wicked little girl I was, while she reached under my school
uniform and slipped down my panties to the middle of my thighs. She
added that in rebelling against her, I had also rebelled against God, and
that He had commanded that I receive the rod for my sin. Then she
pulled me face down over her lap and turned up my skirt and slip.
As she took a firm hold of my wrists and pinned them against my back, I
still felt that same eerie calm rather than the desperate panic I normally
experienced in the final moments before a spanking. It wasn't real.
I wasn't really about to get spanked on God's orders for something I didn't
do. It wasn't going to happen.
And then it did.
Smack! came the
back of the hairbrush against my tender bare skin. Before I could
gasp for air and cry out from the sting, another smack fell, and then another
and another. Mommy was spanking my poor little bottom as hard and
fast as she could. I let out a wail of pain as the next few swats
fell, each one stinging worse than the last, until I could wail no longer
and gasped a fresh lungful of air. Mommy did not relent, and continued
to smack my behind smartly and hard, always in the same spot. I wanted
to beg her to stop but all I could do was bawl and bawl as the tears soaked
my face. Before long the sensation of a hairbrush-spanked bottom
had grown so horrid that I was aware of little else.
I have no idea how many
spanks she gave me that afternoon but it felt like dozens. Maybe
she decided that the rod of correction had driven the foolishness from
her child's heart. Maybe her arm just became exhausted. But
eventually my punishment came to an end. I didn't notice
my panties being pulled up or being lifted off her lap, but as I continued
to cry my eyes out I found myself lying face down across the side of my
bed with my panties back in place. Out of the corner of my eye the
door closed as Mommy left the room. I cried and cried for a long
time, rubbing my cruelly throbbing bottom to try to make it stop hurting.
At first rubbing made no difference, it nearly felt as bad as if I were
still getting spanked. But after awhile the rubbing did begin to
help. The pain from my backside became bearable as long as I rubbed
but smarted bitterly with each beat of my heart if I stopped even for an
As the pain in
my bottom subsided, the pain in my heart swelled - far worse than
the mere injured pride of a child whose bare bottom had just gotten a sound
paddling from her Mommy. My world crumbled around me.
How could God let this happen? Why did he let me get blamed
for something I knew nothing about? And most incomprehensibly awful
of all, how could God have told Mommy to spank me when he knew
I was innocent? The universe as I understood it could not encompass
the events of the past half hour. Mommy was wrong. God was
wrong (no! impossible! but how...?). And I was all alone with
no idea where to turn. Like every frightened child I wanted
only to flee to the safety of Mommy's lap. But today that lap
held no safe haven.
The door opened
and Mommy walked in. I hadn't heard her coming. I needed her
desperately, needed her to take away the scariness and somehow make everything
right. But she held me at arms length and said that I needed to pray
first and get back into right standing with God. She gestured to
my bedside, the spot where I commonly said my prayers, and bade me confess
to God what I had done and ask His forgiveness and mercy. I was paralyzed
- struck dumb. I could neither move or speak. I wanted to obey
my mother. But she wanted me to tell God something which wasn't
the truth! How could I tell a fib to God??
God would know and would punish me! But if I didn't, I would disobey
Mommy and she would punish me! There was no answer - no escape.
As she saw me
staring, slackjawed, neither obeying nor speaking, all trace of softness
vanished from her countenance. "Young lady," she said in a
voice which turned my heart to ice, "since you persist in your willful
defiance, you are going to be spanked again." She gripped me tightly
around the wrist and began to lead me to my bedside.
"No! No! NO!!!"
I shrieked, and wrenched my wrist free. As she seized me a
second time, her lips pursed with anger, I resisted with all
my might screaming 'NO!' again and again. I fought and screamed not
from fear but from a raging, blind hysteria which swept me aloft like a
whirlwind. I hadn't chosen to behave this way, it just happened.
Normally, I would never dream of defying my mother in such a manner. But
nothing was normal that afternoon.
attempts to place me over her knee only to have me twist and flail back
off again, she shoved me onto the bed and declared that she had never thought
me capable of such defiant behavior. (Neither had I!) Then,
in a tone of cold, barely-controlled anger, she added that Daddy would
handle this when he got home. She strode from the room without another
word closing the door and bolting it from the outside.
My hysteria vanished
as quickly as it had appeared. What had I done? What had
I done?! How could I have been so insane as to fight against
my mother?? Now I really had been bad! And I now would
get A Spanking From Daddy as a result!
In our family,
Mother did nearly all of the disciplining. Daddy only stepped in
on rare occasions when a misbehavior of ours greatly exceeded the
normal range of childish infractions and misadventures. "A
Spanking From Daddy" was the ultimate punishment. It
meant that you'd been worse than just naughty. It meant you were
bad - very bad. To my childish mind, A Spanking From
Daddy differed little from being turned over the knee of Jesus Himself.
Never in my life
had I felt in so much trouble as I did that afternoon. The awful
reality of my predicament weighed upon me like a stone - a terrible, gnawing
ache in my tummy. I could not banish it from my mind for more
than a few moments at a stretch. Nearly two terrible hours of waiting
remained before Daddy came home. Many times I knelt beside
my bed in prayer, begging God to take pity on me, to save me. Again
and again I implored the Almighty to tell what he wanted me to do, pledging
to devote my life to whatever vocation He wished if only He would make
my world right again.
But God had vanished.
For years I had believed I felt His presence, like a wise grandfather who
knew everything in my heart and loved me always. Now, for the first
time in memory, I felt nothing. My insignificant prayers disappeared
into vast space with no ear to hear. When the terror of existential
loneliness became unbearable, the dread of my upcoming appointment
with Daddy immediately took its place, until I recoiled back to the loneliness
once more. Time slowed to a crawl as I swung back and forth
between twin miseries. My bottom still ached from the hairbrush,
but I scarcely noticed, just as I scarcely noticed the sounds
of Debby coming home from her field hockey practice. Then I
realized, with a gulp of dread, that this meant Daddy would arrive soon
When Daddy spanked,
he spanked hard. Though thankfully rare, every one of his
punishments hurt at least as much as the one Mommy had just given.
Daddy took very seriously his role as the final dispenser of family discipline.
"A Spanking From Daddy" was never rushed to a hurried conclusion.
It was a solemn occasion, a spiritual rescue, in which a dearly beloved
child in peril was snatched from the broad avenue leading to the Lake of
Fire, and placed squarely back onto the narrow path leading to Life Everlasting.
To accomplish this act of mercy, Daddy 's strong, tireless arm never faltered
until every last trace of stubbornness and willful defiance had been broken
and replaced with sorrow and repentence in the heart of the daughter across
All at once,
the rumble of the garage door sent me bolting to my feet.
Part Two: "A Spanking From
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