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Domestic Discipline

Making a Meal of It

I grew up in the 1970s in the south of England. My mother had me when she was considerably older than most mums and gave birth to me at 30 years old. Dues to certain circumstances mother raised me as a single parent and thus, taking on the roles of both mother and father she was very strict. Having said that, I had a good upbringing and my mother provided well for me and worked hard to give me the best life she could.

Mum firmly believed in corporal punishment as the main form of discipline. I can actually remember having my bottom smacked for the first-ever time.  This particular punishment was given for drawing on my bedroom wall. My mother was furious and I was taken to her own bedroom for chastisement.

Once in the room, she took me over her knee and smacked my backside until it stung.

As well as the spanking itself, I also vividly remember the scolding which accompanied it. “How dare you draw on your wall? You’re in for good hiding, my girl – I’ll show you what happens in this house every time you misbehave or disobey mummy!”

After she had soundly spanked me, Mum sat me on her knee. She told me: “Veronica, I’m afraid I’m going to be a lot stricter with you in the future. Things need to change around here – you need some discipline in your life.

“You will do as you’re told, and I won’t tolerate any more of your disobedience or backchat. You will go to bed when you are told, eat what you are told, and wear what you’re told.”

Mum also explained that from now on, I would be required to help her with chores around the house. I did these as soon as I got home from school. My tasks would usually include cleaning the kitchen (and doing the dishes), cleaning the bathroom, and washing the floors down.

Mealtimes themselves were something of a chore – Mum was a stickler for healthy eating and I was only ever allowed ‘junk food’ as a rare treat.

One Saturday summer lunchtime particularly sticks in my mind.  Mum told me we would have a ‘nice salad’ for dinner as it was too hot to cook. She told me to get all the ingredients out of the fridge and start chopping them up. Now, I absolutely loathed salad and had to stand at the counter and chop every single ingredient, including the horrible-looking pickled vegetables.

Mum finished off the dinner and told me to sit down. On that day, I wasn’t particularly hungry anyway, and I asked her if I could put mine in the fridge and eat it later.

She replied emphatically: “No, you will do nothing of the kind. You will sit here at this table and eat every single bit of salad on that plate, young lady – and I mean every bit!”

I started whining that I didn’t like salad. Mum shot back: “I don’t care whether you like it or not, child – you will do as you are told and eat it. I won’t tell you again!”

For a few minutes, I just sat there sulking, pushing my food around on my plate. Finally, I looked up again and told Mum I didn’t want any more. That was it – she got up from the dinner table and grabbed me by the arm, she then ordered me to bend over the kitchen table. I started crying but obeyed. I was filled with dread as I heard Mum take off her belt.

Then the scolding started. “What have I told you about eating what you are told, young lady? You know very well that I won’t tolerate food being wasted in this house! I’m sick of you disobeying me, and complaining at every single mealtime. I’m going to teach you a lesson you’ll remember every time you sit down at this table.

“You are in for the belting of your life, Veronica – and after I’ve finished strapping your naughty bottom, you will sit back down and finish that salad. Do I make myself clear?” By now I was absolutely sobbing, even though my backside had not yet been touched. “Yes, Mum,” I replied through my tears. I really couldn’t believe what was happening – I generally only ever got a hand spanking for not clearing my plate.

Mum then raised her belt and bought it down across my bottom – I cried my eyes out.

When the punishment was over, I was told to sit back down and finish off what was on my plate. Naturally, I finished eating all of my remaining salad without another word.

In retrospect, the punishments I received were quite harsh compared with my misbehavior, but it certainly worked. After receiving the belt, I was much more obedient to my mother and my spankings became a lot less frequent.

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