I gently, subtly but pointedly move my brother's hand away from Bailey's hair (which looks too short for a "tussle").
"Bailey's turn for what exactly, dear brother?" I ask, "It is a bit early for bath time." Of course I know what he means and I greatly resent his presumption. I decide to play naive to tease it out of him so that he has to spell it out explicitly.
Of course, he will say that is it Bailey's turn for a "whipping". I knew that, I know why, I know what for and, most importantly, I know that IT IS NOT GOING TO HAPPEN.
"Oh dear, Bailey, what else have you been up to? Have you broken any windows? been extorting lunch money from younger children? Scrumping? Shoplifting? Smoking?..." You get the general idea. Bailey shakes his head, I don't pause long enough for him to answer, to all of these though with different degrees of vigour.
Eventually either Bailey or, more likely, brother John will point out the CP notice from school which Bailey showed me.
"Yes, I read that. Silly boy, Bailey, you must remember not to talk in class. Well, you've been suitably punished for it and I hope for your bottom's sake that you learn from it." then to my brother, "I don't see what this has to do with anything since the school has already dealt with it, and rather rather overdid a tad I think."
This will force my brother to say that Bailey needs to spanked here for it just he spanked Derek for it.
"Oh I see! I get it now." I say with a look of understanding crossing my face as if this is a revelation that has finally dawned on me. Then I ask Bailey to leave us, I suggest he goes to his room as I don't think this conversation should continue in front of him.
Bailey is still looking concerned as he leaves. Just as he reaches the door of the
study 'den' he asks, in a very worried voice if he has to take his trousers off.
"Yes," I answer, and see despair in his pleading eyes, "If you want to. If you think you would feel more comfortable like that." I say in a tone that which sounds as if I find his question very strange. "Perhaps you might like to find your cousin. Derek sounds very unhappy."
When Bailey leaves I close the door to the 'den' though I don't check for anyone listening outside. Then I turn to my brother. It is time to drop the act.
"Not going to happen." I tell him bluntly, "If you feel the need to employ that system for your son then that is your business, I am sure you must have your reasons, but you will not extend it my son." I hold back from finishing off with "Do you understand?" or even using exclamation marks.
I decide that the mutual spanking permissions does not cover anything that happens at school.
At some point John is going to claim that it is hardly fair for Derek to be spanked but not Bailey when they were both guilty of the same thing. There is an obvious response to that:
"It wasn't fair to spank Derek for something for which he had already be been punished in school either! If you hadn't done that in the first place we would be in this awkward situation!"
Yes, I did it. I am directly criticising my brother's way of discipline, and I used exclamation marks, but as far I as I am concerned he forced my hand by assuming he could include Bailey in it this time. Not only is it presumptuous I feel that I am being manipulated into doing things his way in my own house, where I am generously allowing him and Derek to stay, and I am NOT having it. It is just possible he didn't realise what he was being presumptuous or intentionally manipulative. Anyway, I remind my brother that he is a guest in my house and he is not to overstep the mark while he is dependent on my benevolence.
I won't deny that it is unfair that Derek gets punished for something at school but Bailey doesn't but I am sure my brother John is quite fond of the phrase "life's not fair". It would be better for both cousins to be punished the some way for this sort of thing. But for that to happen one of us is going to have to make changes to our discipline regimes and it is not going to be me. I am not going to insist that John abandons universal double jeopardy but he is going to have live with being the focus of any resentment.
banish dispatch brother John to the kitchen to make tea, with instructions to do it properly not just bunging teabags in hot water and not to use the best crockery, so that I can be alone with my thoughts in the 'den' study (and maybe a glass of something stronger than tea).
Suppose I had returned from slightly later. Would John have already given Bailey a "whipping" like Derek before I got back? I think that was what was going to happen and I'd've been presented was it as a fait accompli. Would that have set a precedent for double jeopardy for Bailey, at least when he got involved with anything with his cousin?"
What if the situation been the other way? Suppose I was the one staying at John's place, would I be compelled to introduce double jeopardy, or at least accept it when my brother employed it for both boys? I suspect, at the very least when John had said he guess that it was "this guy's turn" I would not have stopped him. However, suppose I was the one who applied the double jeopardy for any trouble at school. What would I expect my brother to do then if he was under my roof?
John returns with the tea. I take two mugs up to the boys; I do it myself as I think my brother's appearance would alarm Bailey at the moment.
While there is no way I am going to consider introducing a general 'trouble at school means trouble at home' regime for Bailey I will agree to discussing with my brother exactly what sort of thing I would regard as double jeopardy offences. If it is has never happened that I probably only a vague idea about what they might be, only that if something happened at school that required further sanction at home I am sure I would recognise it when I saw it. Perhaps we could agree on those though it might mean moving the bar for double jeopardy for Bailey to lower than I would like but I would try to keep higher than I expect him to reach.