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BOTD 01-09-14 The Lesser Evil? - A Memory Man Production

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The Lesser Evil?

A Memory Man Production

You are a 'fifties' father, one of a minority who doesn't spank.  You don't hold any strong views about it, its just that you've never thought it necessary.

You are proud of your eleven year old son, Robert, he's a good kid, bright and lively and you have a good relationship with him.  Rather tall and gangly for his age he is academic rather than sporty and will, next term, be moving up to grammar school.  He is full of innocent mischief but he responds well to admonition and when he does overstep the boundaries a brief grounding and a sheaf of chores is all that is necessary to pull him back into line.

Robert - 11
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Today though there is clearly something wrong; he came in from school with none of his natural ebullience, grunted in reply to your greeting before going straight to his room.  When you called him down to eat he was morose, ate his food and went straight back upstairs.  You exchanged looks with your wife, gave him a few minutes and then followed.

You find him sitting on his bed just staring at the wall.  You sit beside him.  "Something's bothering you Rob.  Would you like to talk about it?"

He shakes his head, but starts to tear up.

You put your arm round him, pull him in close and as you wait you can sense a slight tremor in his body.  

It was a while before he managed to speak  -  "I got the slipper today for the first time, I only got two but they really hurt and I cried."

He turned to look up at you and the shame tumbled out "The other kids don't cry after just two and they were laughing at me in the playground and calling me a big baby."  You hugged him tightly as the tears flowed.  After a while he went on and you detected signs of panic in his voice.

"Tom and Pete" (his best friends) "never cry and they say I did 'cos I'm not used to it.  They both get spanked by their dads, bare bum too, and Pete sometimes gets the strap.  They said if I'd been used to it I wouldn't have cried."  He looked up at you  "Dad what if I get it again and cry again? and then when I go to the big school I'm bound to get the cane, they say everybody does.  They'll all laugh at me if I'm a cry baby."

You pull him close "Are to trying to say you want me to start spanking you?  - Just to toughen you up?"  you murmur.

"Dunno!"  .....................  "S'pose so," he choked on the words

"A real spanking, especially bare bum would hurt you a lot more than a couple of whacks with the slipper.  It would be horrible for you - and for me.  Is that how you really want me to punish you?"

There were a few moments of silence before a hesitant little voice asked "Would you think I was a cry baby if I cried when you were spanking me?"

"Good heavens NO.  I always cried buckets when your granddad was spanking me."

More silence, then - "Did you cry when you got the cane at school?"

"Not in class - but we never got more than three, anything worse got you sent to the head.  It was a point of honour that we boys tried to pretend it didn't really hurt when we got it in class.  Only the babies cried.  I only got sent up to the Head once and I got six of the best in his study.  That time I cried."

"Poor Dad" he murmured into your chest as you felt his grip tighten.

He held on tightly for a while and then suddenly pulled away to look you in the eye.

"Will you do it then Dad? - - Please?

Will you?

Can you dig it?

John Boy

part of me says why change what isn't broken, yet I can see how at that age peer means everything.


No. I'm going to tell Rob that some boys cry when they're hurt, but more cry when they're ashamed. I'm going to tell him that I think it's his investment in the punishment, rather than his being "a baby about it" that made him cry. He's doubtless taken harder blows playing football or rugby with his mates.

I'm also going to teach him strategies for dealing with the pain part so he won't embarrass himself in front of his friends in future--things like thinking about something else and biting down hard.

I don't think "practice" is going to make him tougher against the slipper or cane. Clearly whatever we've done previously has worked well for Rob--I can't see any reason to change that now.


Editor Extraordinaire
I agree with Kier. There are strategies for coping with pain that I can teach him. Besides, he'll never again have the shock of this first time. One thing I might quietly do is have a word with his headmaster and suggest that corporal punishment should be administered as privately as possible out of respect for the pupils. The sting of the slipper should be the punishment, not a loss of dignity or the ridicule of one's peers because some kids either have a lower pain threshold or are more sensitive to the embarrassment. Even though this is the 1950s and classroom punishments may be routine, all change has to start with someone speaking out.


David M. Katz

K club intact.

Cleverly disguised as a responsible adult.

Stone Man

AFinch wrote: No. I'm going to tell Rob that some boys cry when they're hurt, but more cry when they're ashamed. I'm going to tell him that I think it's his investment in the punishment, rather than his being "a baby about it" that made him cry. He's doubtless taken harder blows playing football or rugby with his mates.

Kat wrote: Besides, he'll never again have the shock of this first time.


These two quotes sum up what I'll be telling Robert by way of explaining to him why I think he cried this time. I see no reason to change the way we discipline him.

 Twisted Evil I'd be willing to make his next birthday spanking more memorable if he was really interested.  Twisted Evil 


David M. Katz wrote:K club intact.



Its not being accustomed that did it I'm sure. As to the cane , unless I use that at home there is nothing that will prepare Rob for the first go with that. As to coping strategies I think Katz is onto something. Thinking about the best day of his life or, when slightly older, being with his girlfriend later. Can I raise a smile?

I'm not going to change my practices and I doubt there will be any joy in changing those of any school Rob goes to. I hope Rob is ok at PE or his first hurdle is going to be his PE masters who can be a law unto themselves and will probably hit a lot harder than that experienced this time round.

Other than remind Rob that he will not be alone and in the end generations of boys survived this " rite of passage." He will too

Pi Beta

RIP 9 Jan 47 - 17 June 17
Almost certainly not. I suspect that it wasn't so much the pain that made him cry but either the shock that it was happening to him or the shame of what had earned him the two whacks.

Going back in my memory to around 1957 or 1958 when I was a prep school and within a year of his age, the first time I was whacked with a gymshoe I also got two. I haven't the slightest recollection what I had done but it must have been something that had involved a group of us. All I remember was that the boy before me was yelling his head off and jumping up and down after just the first whack, so, while he was calming down, I was called in and got my two. I know I didn't cry and honestly cannot remember quite how painful it was, but the first lad was then given his second whack and again took it badly, but not quite as badly as the first.

We were both dayboys in a largely boarding prep school and could have expected some ribbing from the (much more frequently in trouble) boarders if we'd cried. I think the other boy did get some teasing for a couple of days but it soon died down. I rarely got whacked thereafter but when I was, I never cried. I was far more prone to crying if I was being told off and shouted at than for any pain.

I would try to give him some tips on how to maintain the expected stiff upper lip but would point out that it would be the rare boy who didn't cry the first time he received the cane in ernest. It would be almost certain that by his age, he would have been hit several times by a cricket ball and would probably not have cried as such, though he might have yelled from shock. There is a difference, of course, in that with cricket, one is always aware that one may get hit, but not when or where; with a whacking, you know you are going to get hit and where!

Those who were teasing him today will have turned their attention elsewhere by the following week.

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