I was primarily raised by my aunt (my mother’s older sister) until I was older, when my mom got married to my stepdad and then had my step-sister.
My aunt was the single mother of my cousin Jimmy, who was a year and a half older than me. My aunt had been in her early 20s when she had her child, so she was in a slightly better position to be a mother, and she was also a nurse. Mostly she was great and I had fun with her, but she was also a no-nonsense, ‘what I say goes’ kind of lady and a firm believer in spanking, which was going out of style in the nineties.
One day, in the summer, my aunt took us to a lake near her house to go swimming. I had just stayed with my mother for three weeks, which was a rare treat for me and as an experience was more akin to spending time with an older sister than a parent. I can imagine I was quite the nightmare by the time I was dropped back off, having had no structure or proper food for the previous weeks. This pattern would repeat throughout my childhood and it was always a difficult transition back, so as such, I’d been pushing my limits all day – riling my cousin and generally being a nuisance.
There were some older kids swimming at the lake – they had strung a rope swing from a tree and were swinging into the water. My aunt, who had spent some time working in the casualty and often related horror stories of injuries from there, told Jim and I in no uncertain terms that if we were to try to go over to the swing, she would properly wallop our backsides when we returned home.
Now, normally that would have been enough for me to be obedient (though not Jim, he was always doing what he was not supposed to do). However, as I said, I had been with my mother for weeks doing practically whatever I wanted. My mother had also made the mistake of telling me (though she never thought to tell her sister) that she didn’t like that my aunt was spanking me so much. I don’t know why I somehow translated that into the thought that my aunt could not spank me anymore – but in my mind, that is what had occurred.
My aunt, like many nurses in the mid-nineties, was a smoker, so she would often wander away for large periods of time to ‘keep the smoke off the kids’. She smoked in the car with us in it, so I don’t know why outside that was suddenly such a big deal for her, but it made no difference to us, and we were often left unsupervised to do as we liked when my aunt went for a cigarette.
Jimmy and I splashed around in the water for a while but eventually, the call of the rope swing was too great and my aunt was so far away. We could see her all the way on the other side of the street, standing by the small snack stand. So, when the older kids tired of swinging and began to attempt to ‘log roll’ on a tree that had fallen into the water, we saw our chance and hurried over, making sure she was still where we assumed her to be.
“We can’t let her see us!” Jimmy hissed conspiratorially as we snuck toward the swing. To this day, I’m fairly sure my aunt has X-ray vision and supersonic hearing because she could literally hear a misdeed from a mile away. Knowing what I know now, I’m sure she was watching that swing like a hawk to make sure we didn’t go near it.
We each got one good swing in before we heard the inevitable shrieking from the shore. We each took another, less good, swing, knowing she was coming to drag us back to the car, where we got an earful about the emergency room on the ride home.
My aunt dragged us both inside and barked at us to put our hands on the wall. ‘Hands on the wall’ was something that was handed down from my grandparents and all the grandchildren had been taught it. Sometimes it was just that – standing with your hands on the wall for an undetermined amount of time, until whoever had made you stand there told you to go on and behave now.
However, usually, it was the precursor to a spanking and occasionally the finale as well. Jimmy snapped to, already pleading with my aunt not to spank him. I, however, was drunk with power from my recent trip to my mother’s apartment. I put my tiny hands on my hips and refused – something that I had never dared do before. “My mom says that you shouldn’t be spanking me anymore,” I spat out, sticking out my tiny chin obstinately.
My indignation turned to horror as I watched my aunt’s face change from mere anger to absolute rage. “Stay there!” she yelled at Jimmy. She bundled me into the kitchen, holding me by the upper arm in a vice-like grip while with the other hand she extracted a wooden spoon from the ceramic pitcher on the stove.
I was shaking now. “No!” I cried, really panicking. I grabbed the back of the kitchen chair to struggle away, trying to explain what my mother had told me, but I only managed to pull the chair out from the table, essentially helping my aunt to do something she was already planning to do herself.
When I realized that she was pulling the chair out further, prior to sitting down on it to give me a spanking, I scissored the other way and tried to go limp, falling from her grip. Unfortunately for me, I was a lot smaller than her and she was a tall, strong woman of Norse stock, so there was little in the way of actual resistance.
Once my aunt had sat down, she put me easily over her lap and began to smack the seat of my bottom with her spoon –
This hurt unlike any pain I had ever experienced and it gave me a burst of adrenaline, causing me to slither like a snake from her grip for a second, trying to scramble away. My aunt caught me and pulled me back to her lap like a hook, before continuing to go to work on my already sore behind, holding my back down with her other hand.
Every so often, she would stop to lecture about the dangers of the lake and how I’d better listen. However, to tell the truth, I was not listening enough to truly absorb the lecture – all I could even think of was the fiery blows of the spoon as it thoroughly punished my errant rear. I screamed and pleaded for mercy – something which was not given.
“I’m sorry!” I wailed. “Oh, you will be sorry!” my aunt replied, as she continued to swat my bum with that evil spoon. I’d only been smacked with it a couple of times before, and never for this length of time.
After she was finished, she held me, weeping, on her lap for some time. I was terrified the spanking would continue, but in fact, my aunt was just waiting for me to stop sobbing before setting me back on the ground, adding that I had best mind her in the future, if I knew what was good for me. I would have agreed to anything at this point. I’m sure I just cried – I don’t remember saying anything else, just loud sobbing.
In retrospect, it must have been very frustrating for my aunt to have to deal with me in this way, and she would have much preferred my mother to get her life together and raise me herself.
Jim was not spared the spoon either on that day – in fact, I’m sure he got it worse than usual because of my insolence. I heard him crying in the living room shortly after my own performance was finished. I listened to his spanking through the wall of the bathroom while I was examining my own bottom in the bathroom mirror.