Having her mother as her headmistress is not easy

By Judy S

Part 1. Borderline

When your headmistress is also your mother, it’s more often a curse than a blessing. That’s what Stephanie Taylor thought. Her friends didn’t see it that way though. It proved impossible to shake the assumption of favouritism. People see what they expect to see. That had to be it, because Stephanie’s actual experience was the exact opposite.

Take today, for example. Right now, she found herself seated on a plain green, moulded plastic chair. One, from a row of four identical chairs, lined up beside her mum’s office door. Sorry, that should have said, the headmistress’s office door.

Can we start this story again?

A couple of years ago, 1988 or 1989 I suppose, it would be, Saint Martin’s RC Grammar School brought in a new policy. The board of governors called it ‘the three strikes rule’. Everyone else called it ‘the 1-2-3-4 rule’.

Some offences, stealing, bullying, cheating, to name a few, carried a mandatory penalty. Always the cane, always six strokes. This was the early 1990s remember, when corporal punishment was still going strong. Fall foul of those rules and you’d find yourself on the dangerous end of Mrs Taylor’s cane.

But, there were other offences, caught out of bounds, missed homework, talking in chapel. They were all frowned upon, of course, but the outcome was far less certain. Some girls got lines, some got detention, some got away with a warning. Everything rested on the mistress who caught you, and what kind of mood they were in.

To help deter this low-level and repeat misbehaviour, they introduced the 1-2-3-4 rule. Three minors offences led to a major offence, and a major offence meant a trip to the headmistress’s office.

But, where does the ‘4’ come into it, you might be wondering? That’s because three minor offences earned you four strokes of Mrs Taylor’s cane. Simple, clear, mandated, and the policy had proved effective. The teachers liked it, and the board of governors liked it. The headmistress liked it too, and she enforced it with vigour.

The only dissenting voices came from the older girls. In the senior years they expected to catch a break. They could escape the cane, most of the time. Now, even the girls of the upper-sixth form found they had better take a bit more care. Or else!

After Mrs Taylor made a few examples, word spread. And, Mrs Taylor loved to make examples. Stephanie was under no illusions about her fate. She had chalked up three minors offences and had zero chance of talking her way out of it becoming a major matter.

In her eyes, none of her minor offences had been that bad.

Caught in a group of girls strolling around their cross-country. Failing to complete an English Literature assignment over the Easter break. And, her house tutor caught her skipping morning chapel. She received an hour’s detention for that one, which seemed harsh. But, harsh was an understatement, when she realised it counted as her third minor offence.

Every time there was a borderline call, she seemed to get the worst of it. She had a fifty per cent chance of becoming the lacrosse captain, but the position went to her rival, “to avoid favouritism”. One teacher gave her a detention; it was upgraded it to a Saturday detention, “to avoid favouritism”. It had been the story of her school-life.

Her mother had already given her a lecture at home, and she knew there would be more to come later.

“How could you put me in this invidious position Stephanie? I can’t make an exception for you. No favouritism, that’s the rule.”

And so it went. Stephanie understood her mum’s perspective. Even empathised, a bit. But, it was her bottom that would be raw for the next few days. She was the one who deserved sympathy, not her cane wielding mother.

When the four o’clock bell sounded, the door opened. Mrs Taylor adopted a tone of professional detachment.

“Stephanie, it’s time. Come through to the office.”

In the outer office, the two school administrators glanced up. Mrs McDonald, an older lady with silvery hair, gave a rueful shake of her head. She remembered similar appointments from her own schooldays, many years before. Knowing what Stephanie faced, she didn’t envy her one little bit. Her assistant, Miss Parker, only a couple of years Stephanie’s senior, tried to hide a sly smirk. Fancy the headmistress’s daughter, getting a taste of her own mother’s cane!

“Mrs McDonald,” the headmistress called from her doorway. “You know who I’m expecting?”

“Of course, Mrs Taylor. You asked me to send them straight in.”

“If you could, please. They’ll be here in a few minutes.”

And, with a click, the door closed behind them. As always on these occasions, a hush descended over the outer-office. Miss Parker and Mrs McDonald would be working there for the next hour. Even through the headmistress’s door, the thwack of a cane stroke carried through. Sometimes accompanied by a howl, or a yelp, or sometimes by the wail of tears. With almost indecent curiosity, they couldn’t help but listen.

The lady who addressed Stephanie was very much Mrs Taylor, headmistress. She included none of the usual, “take a seat, dear”, and other niceties. Stephanie stood, like any other miscreant before her, facing the broad oak desk. She got the same lecture again, only more so. With every passing second, she felt her punishment drawing closer.

She knew that Saint Martin’s disciplinary policy required a witness to be present. Often it would be a teacher, sometimes one of the school secretaries. On other occasions, Mrs Taylor asked the head girl. Everyone dreaded that. Janet Harbottle was an atrocious gossip, and her tales spread like wildfire.

When the anticipated knock sounded at the door, Stephanie turned. She was on tenterhooks, dreading to see who walked in.

Part 2. Substitute

Of all the people Stephanie expected to see coming through that door, Dr Barnstaple was not one of them. And then, with an inward groan, she saw Janet Harbottle following. She ought to have expected as much. Janet’s presence was the inevitable ‘icing on the cake’. She scowled at Janet’s look of smug satisfaction, before turning back to her mother.

At Sunday Mass, her mother always stopped to chat with Dr Chris Barnstaple and his family. He was headmaster at Broadwell Academy, a local boys school, and they’d become friends.

Stephanie blushed. She cherished quite a crush for his son, who she knew was also in the upper-sixth. She flirted, being as outrageous as she dared, but he always acted shy. They only saw each other at church on Sunday mornings and she was running out of ideas to capture his attention.

Mrs Taylor did not appear surprised by his arrival. Quite the reverse. She stood up and thanked him for coming.

“I appreciate you giving me your time with this, can we say, sensitive matter.”

Stephanie, as you’d imagine, looked perplexed. She glanced between them, unable to read anything in the adults’ steadfast expressions.

“What’s this all about?” Her question sounded hesitant. “I don’t mean any disrespect to Dr Barnstaple, but I’m sure school policy requires a female witness. I’m not sure he should be here.”
When she saw a knowing smile spread upon her mother’s face, Stephanie had a sinking feeling. When she finally understood the true implications, it was more than a sinking feeling. Her stomach leapt as if she’d been riding a roller-coaster.

“Don’t worry, Stephanie. You’ll have a female witness. You’ll have two, to be precise. I warned you that you’d put me in an impossible situation. Well, Dr Barnstaple has offered to relieve me of a painful duty. But, somehow, I don’t imagine anybody will be offering to relieve you of your role in this!”

“No mum, please! You can’t be serious!” Stephanie tried to stem the rising panic in her voice.”

Even Janet looked shocked as Mrs Taylor’s intentions became plain.

“This is a punishment that I can’t take responsibility for. There’s bound to be someone who would cry the mother-daughter favouritism card. Claim I’d gone easy on you, or some such nonsense. No, I’m afraid there’s no alternative. Today I’m going to stand aside and act only as an observer.”

“But this can’t be fair, mum. Nobody else in the school would get punished this way!”

“That’s because nobody else in the school happens to be my daughter.”

Having remained silent until now, Dr Barnstaple spoke up.

“This wasn’t an easy decision for your mother Stephanie. You don’t seem to appreciate the gravity of her dilemma. Being required to discipline her own daughter is a clear conflict of interest. I’m glad she felt comfortable asking for my help. And if, heaven forbid, my boy Tom were to land in similar trouble, I trust I’d receive the same support.”

“You can count on it,” Mrs Taylor assured him.

Despite her situation, the thought of Tom’s cute bottom in grey school trousers, leapt to Stephanie’s mind. Her mother, flexing her cane and ordering him to bend over, would be quite a sight.

Stephanie felt torn between a dread fear, and the imperative to maintain face in front of the head girl. She saw no option but to see this through. Given how the story would spread, she faced the added pressure to show the utmost forbearance.

She realised that, sometimes, you have to face the fear and accept your fate.

Eyes downcast, she turned towards her mother.

“I’m sorry, mum. It’s not that I don’t appreciate where you’re coming from. And, I can see it isn’t fair to put you into this position. If you tell me what to do, I promise I won’t make things any more difficult for you.”

A subtle sign, a meaningful nod, passed between Dr Barnstaple and her mother. The preliminaries were complete.

“Stephanie,” the Dr Barnstaple began. “Your mother asked me to proceed from here. I will not dwell on your offences, only to remind you of the school policy. Three minor offences, in a single year, mandates four strokes of the cane. Like it or not, that’s the position we’re in.”

“Yes sir. I understand.”

When he entered the room, Stephanie had failed to notice a black strap across the lapel of his dark suit. He slipped it off his shoulder, like the strap of a rucksack, and she saw it held a long, narrow case. Laid upon her mother’s desk, it reminded her of the pool cue cases her brothers used to carry to youth club.

The room waited, transfixed, as he drew back the zip and opened up the flat, supple case. Stephanie had been right. It was a soft, fleece-lined pool cue case, but it didn’t contain a pool cue. She stared at its contents. The rounded crook handle was unmistakable.

It seemed absurd that he would find it necessary to bring his own cane. To Stephanie, one school cane was pretty much like any other. Could there be some subtle nuance of weight or flex that made this one unique? He withdrew it like a discipline virtuoso uncasing his instrument. When his right hand slid into the curved handle, Stephanie knew that the time had almost come.

“This will be a very uncomfortable experience for you, have no doubt. I’m sure Mrs Taylor feels the same when I tell you these situations come as a great disappointment. But I hope, on reflection, you will see why such discipline is sometimes necessary.”

Stephanie had heard enough accounts from her friends. She knew exactly how uncomfortable it was going to be. Some of those same friends assumed Mrs Taylor would be ultra-strict at home. But, in fact, she had rarely resorted to spankings.

Over the last few years, only one occasion stood out in Stephanie’s memory. A bout of teenage stroppiness that had finally driven her mother to reach for her slipper. Though it was a rarity, she didn’t believe in half-measures. Two dozen whacks, across her pyjama-clad bottom, had left her feeling sore for hours.

The slipper had been awful, but Stephanie knew the cane would be a whole lot worse.

Part 3. Resolution

Dr Barnstaple guided her into position in a calm, patient voice. Watching as she bent, hands upon her knees. Judging her flexibility, assessing whether she could bend farther. He felt certain that she could.

“Reach down lower, Stephanie, knees straight. I expect students to hold the position. It may be embarrassing, and I’m sorry, but I’ve found it’s an important part of the lesson.”

When her hands slid down and she took a firm grip a couple of inches above her ankles, he appeared satisfied.

“Janet,” Mrs Taylor interposed. “Please assist Dr Barnstaple. Fold back Stephanie’s skirt. Tuck it into her waistband. I’m sure you know the drill.”

Stephanie stiffened. Still bending, rigid like a statue, she felt Janet Harbottle’s fingers adjusting, smoothing, tucking. The shameful exposure made her skin crawl. A relative stranger, a man of her mother’s age, getting an eyeful of her navy blue knickers.

She wondered how many times he had performed a similar duty. Countless Broadwell Academy boys must have found themselves bending over in his office. But, was this the first time his cane had taken aim at the bottom of a young lady? She was eighteen years of age, bending, her panties stretched taut. Could that cane ever have addressed a more delectable target?

She knew her punishment could be only seconds away now. The tip of the cane came to rest on the centre of her left cheek. He tapped. Aiming, measuring. The turn of his shoulder and elbow would extend the cane’s reach, right across her bottom.

Stephanie tried to brace herself. She thought back to the sting of her mother’s slipper, preparing herself for worse.

She failed to detect his backswing. The first warning she had was a whistling swoosh of air. It terminated in a splitting crack of rattan against her bottom. Her school panties, though modest, offered no defence.

Everyone has a different reaction to the cane, or so she’d heard. First, a breath-taking moment of intensity, then seconds of agony as the stroke burned. She gasped, a sharp intake of breath with a stifled, “Ow”. But, she held the position and her breath quickened, as waves of smarting began to spread.

It was only the first of four, but she prayed she could maintain this degree of composure.

Dr Barnstaple was careful, unhurried. Light taps with the tip of the cane helped him to judge his aim. Measuring. Waiting. Then came the second swoosh and crack.

This time it was impossible to stifle a cry. Even the secretaries in the outer office pricked up their ears. A muffled “Ee-ouch!” permeated the office door.

Stephanie’s hands released her ankles and her fingers shot out rigid. It was a spontaneous reflex to the shock, although she remained bending. Without needing a prompt, she re-gripped her ankles, and waited.

That second stroke carried a fiery intensity, far worse than the first. Her bottom throbbed, a hot sting spreading.

“Half way, Stephanie. Keep your position,” Dr Barnstaple reminded her.

“Yes, sir.” There was a tremor in her voice. The soreness and emotion had provoked an unfamiliar lump in her throat. She fought to hold back the tears, which she knew were close.

The third stroke built upon the second. An intensity that surged, while the hot smarting pulsated. From her bent posture, Stephanie had a limited view. To her left, the polished black shoes and grey trousers of Dr Barnstaple. Her mother’s silver grey kitten heels and lower legs visible to her right. But, Janet held centre stage.

Glancing back between her knees, she saw the head girl, punishment register held to her chest. What she wouldn’t give to see that self-satisfied smirk wiped from her face. But, for now, there were more pressing concerns.

The fourth and final whoosh and thwack of the cane ignited another strip of fire across her bottom cheeks. A penetrating flash of pain erased all thoughts of Janet Harbottle.

It had been Stephanie’s first experience of the cane, and she intended to make sure it was also her last. Knowing better than to stand, she waited, drinking in the smarting sting. The incessant prickling seemed to fill her entire bottom.

“Are you satisfied, Mrs Taylor?” Dr Barnstaple asked.

Stephanie heard footsteps, her eyes beginning to feel misty with tears. She was aware of her mother circling around, inspecting. It seemed like an eternity before she spoke.

“Thank you, Dr Barnstaple. Most satisfactory. I can see this delegated discipline was in safe hands.”

“Very well. Stephanie, you heard your mother. Since we are doing this my way, I want you to stand, and place your hands on your head. I find a good ten minutes of reflection is beneficial. Stand over there, facing into the corner.”

Stephanie arose. It was a relief to straighten her back, but her blazing bottom was where she most needed some relief. She didn’t even dare to give it a brief massage. Janet had done a thorough job tucking up her skirt and it remained up. The four stripes, extending beyond the leg elastic of her panties, were on display. She stood in the corner, feeling the awful, childish humiliation.

Under Mrs Taylor’s guidance, Janet wrote into the book. At Saint Martin’s, only the headmistress had the authority to deliver corporal punishment. As they flipped through to the current entry, Janet saw page after page of Mrs Taylor’s initials.

Following Mrs Taylor’s dictation, Janet completed the next line.

‘Thursday June 11th 1992. Name: Stephanie Taylor. Age: 18. Form: U6a. Offence: Breach of three strikes rule. Account of discipline: 4 strokes on seat. Name of master or mistress: Dr Barnstaple.’

For the first time in Saint Martin’s punishment book, a new set of initials, ‘CB’, completed the entry.

Part 4. Epilogue

The summer of 1992 came early and, at the time, it was the second warmest June on record. The following Sunday, glorious sunshine bathed Saint Martin’s church. It dated back to Norman times, the square tower crenellated, a more recent roof-apex within. After Mass, the congregation gathered on the lawn, in no hurry to leave.

Stephanie had been dreading her first public encounter with Dr Barnstaple. She was grateful for his tact when he made no mention of Thursday’s meeting. It was hot, even in the shade of the tall beech trees that surrounded the church. The girls and ladies wore light summer frocks, the boys and gentlemen in shirtsleeves.

“Would you like an ice cream?” Tom asked. “They’ll still be chattering here for ages.”

“Sure,” Stephanie replied. She felt surprised, and delighted. Tom might finally be overcoming his shyness.

He made a vague hand gesture towards the Spar shop over the road, which his mother acknowledged. The grown-ups, engrossed in conversation, hardly noticed their departure.

On a bench beside the war memorial, they enjoyed their ice creams, Tom’s treat, and kept an eye towards the church. As expected, their parents were still chatting. They were part hidden behind a low hedge and raised mound of a rose garden, but could still see when it was time to leave.

“I suppose you heard the rumours?” Stephanie asked.

Funny looks and sniggering had followed her throughout Friday. Stephanie felt resigned to the fact that everyone knew the story. Janet Harbottle’s boyfriend was a good friend of Tom’s, and gossip this salacious must have reached him by now.

“Glen kind of mentioned it,” Tom replied.

He seemed to be blushing, which piqued Stephanie’s curiosity. If he looked this embarrassed, the incident must have been a bit more than, “kind of mentioned”. If Janet had been her usual gossipy self, she would have spared none of the humiliating details. Had he replayed the episode in his imagination, she wondered? Had he pictured her pert, rounded bottom, wrapped in skin-tight navy blue panties?

“Was it bad? Dad has a rather fierce reputation, I’m afraid.”

Now it was her turn to blush, but she saw the glimmer of a possibility. An opportunity to indulge his curiosity.

“It’s fine now, but my goodness, it was so sore! You can still see the redness. I mean, it’s fading, but if you put your hand right here.”

Stephanie shifted her weight leftwards, leaning on the arm of the park bench. Raising up on  her right toes, she guided Tom’s hand under her dress to her right cheek.

“There. Can you feel the stripes? Take your time, if you want.”

Tom’s jaw dropped, but he let her guide his hand. Being as gentle as possible, he traced the ridges with the tips of his fingers. Almost three days later, redness and feint bruising was still visible. A spiky prickle had buzzed through her cheeks when she sat down on the church’s hard wooden pew.

“Wow! I’m so sorry. I can’t imagine how much that must have stung.”

“It’s starting to feel a lot better at the moment,” Stephanie replied with a mischievous grin. “Could I always rely on you to treat my bottom with this much tenderness?”

“Of course. Well, unless you were being very naughty, I suppose!”

Stephanie giggled. “Oh, I can be a very bad, very naughty girl. But, don’t get complacent, you know. On Thursday, mum sounded more than happy to return your dad’s favour. You might have to watch your step.”

With slow reluctance, Tom withdrew his hand. They were out of sight, amongst the plants of the memorial garden, but it wouldn’t do to push their luck.

Soon afterwards, Mrs Taylor waved and held up two fingers. In her universal sign-language it signalled, “two more minutes”.

“Come on,” Stephanie prompted. “Next week, tell your parents we’re going out for lunch in the village, after church. You can decide for yourself whether I’m naughty, or whether I’m nice!”

Somehow, Tom felt certain she was both.

“It’s a date,” he replied.

The End

© Judy S 2022

Judy is happy to correspond with readers. Contact her at:  https://steamybedtime.co.uk/page/about-us