A bratty daughter is told her strict new school doesn’t discipline with the paddle, which is technically true…

by Caroline Richards

Note: The main inspiration for this story is a real-life account published in a letter by a teenage girl to an American newspaper advice column in 1979. I have combined that with rules and polices I have read in actual handbooks from Christian schools, together with real accounts I have either been told about personally or have read, combined with some of my own experiences and some creative liberties thrown in on the overall story. It’s set in a relatively small (population circa 50,000) California town in 1980. If you’re from a country that uses the UK school system, from what I understand American high school is roughly analogous to fourth through sixth forms. There was a great deal of controversy in the late 1970s in the United States about corporal punishment in government-run schools following a ruling by the Supreme Court that it was constitutionally permissible. Some school districts and even entire states wavered between instituting school paddling because parents said they wanted it, and eliminating school paddling because parents said they opposed it

This story is told through a girl’s personal diary entries, but it’s not meant to be every entry she would have written during this timespan; only the entries that are relevant to the story are included.

****

Dear Diary,

I really thought this was going to be a great year. My cousin Holly is coming to live with me and mom while her folks are on an overseas posting with the State Department. As fascinating as it would be to live in another country for a year, I don’t blame Holly for asking if she could stay with us and keep going to school in America. Plus, she’s the same age as me, and she’s an only child like I am, so we’re always saying to each other that we have all these things in common. And she lives just a couple hours away in Sacramento, so I get to see her pretty regularly. So yay! Instant best friend at school this year!

That’s what I thought. I mean, I still think she’s going to be my best friend this year, and then all of a sudden Mom drops a bomb on me. She’s making me go to this private non-denominational Christian high school down the road from us. And Holly is going there too. I argued and begged and tried to reason with her to go back to my same regular high school as last year. No dice. It looks like Holly’s mom and dad are the ones who came up with this ridiculous idea, and mom thought that sounded great. I guess it never crossed their minds to ask us girls what opinion we might have.

Honestly, I was so frustrated and upset I didn’t really pay much attention to her yammering. Apparently this school has higher behavior standards and is stricter than what we’re used to, and she thinks, and Holly’s parents also think, that some ‘discipline’ would be good for us. I couldn’t believe this nonsense.

“What, are they going to paddle us?” I asked Mom, trying to sound as sarcastic as possible so she would know how stupid this is.

“No, Melissa, they don’t use the paddle at this school.”

Oh, well, let’s give them an award, then. Congratulations on keeping up with the rest of the world. My high school actually had paddling before I started there, and luckily everyone demanded they get rid of it because of how idiotic it is to paddle teenagers.

And it just keeps getting better. It’s all girls. There’s a boys school associated with it, and I guess we share sports fields and have activities together, but all your classes have zero boys. Well, isn’t that just nifty. It’s not as if I wanted to go on any dates anyway. Thanks a ton, Mom!

****

Dear Diary,

Holly is coming here tomorrow, so we got the spare bedroom all ready for her. In a way I was kind of hoping we might share my room like we’re having a slumber party every night, but then I got thinking that I might want some privacy at some point, and she might also. I started feeling bad about the fit I threw yesterday after mom told me about this Christian school business, and I apologized to her. Maybe I just wanted to butter her up so she would change her mind, but she’s set on this. So Valley Christian Academy it is, I suppose. They have about 30 girls in each grade, which is way smaller than I’m used to. Luckily, you don’t have to wear a uniform, although you do have to wear a skirt every day. “A knee-length skirt,” Mom emphasized. It’s okay, mini-skirts are kind of out right now anyway.

I’m not sure why mom, or Holly’s parents for that matter, decided that if we’re going to a private school, it should be a Christian one. I mean, sure, I believe in God and the Bible, and we go to church on Sunday. It’s a local non-denominational one, like this school is. Mom did let me know that even though they’re pretty conservative at this place, they aren’t fundies or anything. They’re not going to tell us silly things like dinosaurs weren’t real; they just focus on the Bible and being a good Christian in general. Oh, and not only do they have small classes, you have like two teachers. There’s your main teacher for most classes, and then you have another teacher for PE and science. As opposed to a different teacher for every class, which is how it’s been ever since 6th grade. But she told me they’re all competent and highly-educated people. I guess they would be, since Holly’s government employee dad wouldn’t send his daughter to anything less.

****

Dear Diary,

Holly has been here for a couple of days. She cried when her folks were about to leave, and I couldn’t blame her. I feel like I didn’t really help the situation by getting in an argument with mom during dinner. Here Holly is, with her parents on the other side of the ocean for a year, and meanwhile I’m having a fight with mine. I ended up apologizing to mom again.

Sometimes when I act like this she tells me she hopes one day I have a daughter like me. I can see her point. It’s got to be hard to be a single mother, let alone with a teenage daughter, let alone one who admittedly acts like a brat sometimes. I know I’m disrespectful to her and I shouldn’t be. I know I’m disobedient sometimes, too. I try, I honestly do. But sometimes I get these impulses and before I know it, my mouth has outrun my brain. And then other times I feel like I have to prove that I can’t be made to do something if I don’t want to. When I was at the doctor for my start of the school year check-up, I told him I feel these things sometimes and asked him if I was crazy, because I was afraid I might be. He laughed and said, “No, you’re not crazy. You’re just a teenager with a lot of hormones and a lot of growing up to do. You just have to learn maturity and self-control.”

And now there’s another girl here, too, and eavesdropping on a couple of conversations before she got here, I gather that Holly can sometimes be ‘a handful’ also. Maybe I actually was asking to be sent to Christian jail. Oh, excuse me, I didn’t mean to say ‘jail’. I just meant, ‘strict, uptight school that doesn’t have any boys!’

So yippee, tomorrow is the first day of school. Holly and I went to McDonald’s and then came home and listened to some records and hung out and talked for a while. We joked that it was our last meal. I hope it was a joke, anyway. We each have our skirts and blouses hanging on the back of our doors, all ironed and ready for tomorrow. And we have our required bookbag with the school supplies from the list we were given, as well as our own copy of the New International Version of the Bible. That’s the one the school officially uses; I guess it’s the most non-denominational or something. When I finish writing this and say my prayers, I’m going to ask God for that miracle I have been saving up to get me out of this. Or, if He’s not willing to deal on that one, to give me a smaller miracle and make this bearable.

****

Dear Diary,

I found out Holly and I are in different classes for our main teacher; English, math, history, Bible study, etc. One of the features of this school is small class size, so they split us into two classes of 15 girls each; we happen to have exactly 30 girls in our grade. But we do all get together for PE and science with Mrs Kennedy, who teaches both of those. I haven’t been able to get much of a feel yet for what she’s like, but I was glad to see she is fun at PE, and doesn’t act like a drill sergeant the way some PE teachers you get are. And it was nice to be out of that skirt and in shorts and a T-shirt and run around for a bit. Plus, we have a volleyball team, so that’s pretty good. I’m not like the star of the team or anything, but I did play volleyball at school last year, so I’m going to sign up here. Because the school is so small, they don’t have try-outs. If you want to play, you’re on the team.

Mrs Carlson, my main teacher, seems to totally live up to that conservative, strict, uptight image I was expecting from a teacher at a school like this. If I had to guess, I would say she’s about my mom’s age, so 40-ish. The teachers and the office staff also wear skirts or dresses. I couldn’t help noticing the only males around here are the office accountant and the custodian. On the other hand, Mrs Carlson is really super nice to me and all the other girls, and she seems more like an aunt than a school teacher. I mean like she’s really close to all the girls and everyone sort of acts like family. So maybe it’s not all bad. Most of the other girls seem nice, too, even if a few of them are pretty square, but that’s probably to be expected at a school like this. A couple of them aren’t allowed to listen to rock music, and stuff like that.

Incidentally, one of the girls who is like that in my class is Mrs Carlson’s own daughter, Angela. Angela calls her ‘Mrs. Carlson’ instead of ‘mom’ during class, I guess so it won’t look like there is favoritism or something. If anything, Angela probably has the opposite problem. Mrs Carlson seems to expect her to be an example. I can’t imagine having my own mom monitoring me all day at school.

Having just one teacher for most of the day and only 14 other people was certainly a change from regular high school. So was starting the day with a prayer and having Bible study, but I didn’t mind that very much. And the teachers and school staff are kind of sticklers that you say, “Yes, ma’am,” or “No, ma’am,” when you answer them, but I guess I can cope.

Holly and I compared notes both during PE and when we got home, and she has about the same impression of her main teacher, Mrs Williams. I would say Mrs Williams is around 35 or so, maybe? Except Holly had a little bit more trouble at school than I did. She was dozing off in class and got a warning from her teacher. And then Holly apparently got a little mouthy when her teacher gave her a warning. And holy crap, I can’t believe this, but Mrs Williams made Holly come to the front of the class and stand in the corner for 10 minutes. That must have been humiliating. It’s so childish. I’m glad Mrs Carlson isn’t like that.

****

Dear Diary,

You know how Holly had to stand in the corner and I said I was glad Mrs Carlson wasn’t that way? Yeah, forget that. I mean, I don’t hate her. What happened was my fault. Still humiliating, though. What happened is during class, I was sitting there at my desk kind of fidgeting and bouncing my leg up and down, and I accidentally bonked my knee on the bottom of my desk and it hurt a little bit. I blurted out, “Ow, crap!” and Mrs Carlson stopped in the middle of teaching us and looked straight at me.

“I’m giving you a warning, young lady. You need to watch your language.”

“But that’s not even a swear word!” I argued.

Well, it seems that at Valley Christian Academy, they don’t like you saying words that are even similar to swearing, and they don’t like you talking back either. Without missing another beat, Mrs Carlson snapped her fingers and pointed at the corner in the front of the room on the opposite wall from the door.

“In the corner, Melissa. Right now. I will tell you when your 10 minutes are up.”

I was just in a daze. I couldn’t believe this was really happening. Everyone else in the room was staring at me. You could have heard a pin drop. I felt my face get hot, which means I probably blushed from embarrassment. Then I got up and walked over to the corner and stood there like a kid in elementary school.

“Hands behind you and head down,” she told me, so that’s what I did.

I cannot believe how long that 10 minutes seemed when you can’t look at your watch or a clock, to say nothing of how childish I felt. I genuinely regretted even that little bit of talking back.

At the end of school, before leaving, I told Mrs Carlson I was sorry and I was just getting used to a new school and I’ll try to do better.

“I know you will, sweetheart,” she said and affectionately touched me on the shoulder.

I’m not quite sure what to make of this. She’s really super nice and caring, even after I got in trouble, and I can’t believe how much this feels like a big family thing as much as it feels like a school. But she turned on a dime the second I got out of line. Does that mean she’s a tyrant, or that she’s a nice woman with firm rules? And speaking of rules, there’s something suspicious here. The way I was sent to the corner, for precisely 10 minutes, was exactly like what Holly told me happened to her. There was also something fishy about Mrs. Carlson specifically saying, “I’m giving you a warning.”

I told Holly what happened and she sort of brushed me off and said, “Yeah, sounds familiar.”

I asked her if her teacher had specifically said something about giving her a ‘warning’, and Holly said, yes, she had said exactly that. I have a feeling there are some school rules that I don’t know about, because the exact same procedure from two different teachers can’t be a coincidence.

Our house is close enough to school to walk, and usually Holly and I are gabbing like mad after having to sit quietly and pay attention for 6 hours. But Holly was really quiet and moody on the way home today. I kept trying to bring up different topics and she wouldn’t bite.

Finally, I guess she was tired of me, and said, “Look, I, um, have to stay after school tomorrow to talk to Mrs Williams. So maybe you should just head on home without me and I’ll catch up to you later.”

I said it was no problem, I didn’t mind waiting.

“No, really, you don’t have to.”

And that’s where we left it. We didn’t talk much after we got home.

****

Dear Diary,

Today was a nightmare, and I’m terrified about tomorrow. Most of the day was pretty normal, except that during lunch and PE Holly wasn’t saying much and seemed like she didn’t want me to notice her. We couldn’t talk during science class that we had together, obviously, and even on the way to school she was pretty quiet.

After the final bell, I got everything I needed for homework put in my bookbag, and started to walk to the office, where the main entrance is. I had planned to walk home by myself, but then started to wonder if something was wrong. I decided to wait for Holly. The building emptied out really fast, so by then there was no one in the halls. I went over to the door of Mrs Williams’ classroom to wait for Holly, since that’s where she said she would be.

I had been standing outside the room for a couple minutes, and then heard something through the door. I couldn’t figure out what it was at first. Then I heard it again. It was sort of a ‘whap!’ sound. Then a couple seconds later, another ‘whap!’ And then another ‘whap! and I heard a girl’s voice yelp. I heard the ‘whap!’ sound a couple more times, a couple seconds apart again, and this time I heard almost a shriek, and then a couple more whaps and I could recognize crying. Then, like some kind of horror movie, I figured out what I was hearing. Holly was getting spanked!

So much for that, “No paddle at this school,” thing that mom told me! This couldn’t possibly be legal. Mom told me they don’t use corporal punishment. And yet poor Holly was in there getting her bottom whacked!

The spanking and crying sounds kept going for a couple of minutes, and I got angry as a hornet. I couldn’t even see straight. Then the spanking sounds stopped, but I could still hear Holly crying, and then what sounded like Mrs Williams talking softly. A minute later, Holly came out. Her face and her eyes were red, and her mouth was still trembling. She was dabbing tears out of her eyes with a tissue with one hand, and rubbing her rear end with the other. She was startled to see me out there and looked absolutely mortified that I knew what had happened.

My self-control was gone. I swung open the door to Mrs Williams’ room. There was still a chair in front of her desk, and I guessed that was where Mrs Williams had sat to give the spanking. Mrs Williams was standing and shuffling some papers, and was really surprised to see me storming in there.

“Mrs Williams!” I yelled. “What did you just do to my cousin?”

She was cool as ice. “Excuse me?”

I was livid and still yelling. “You have no right to use corporal punishment! It’s against the law and she is way too old for that! What is wrong with you? How dare you do that to her! Does Principal Mitchell know that you do this to girls? Do the parents know? Because I have a feeling they’re not going to stand for this when they find out!”

Mrs Williams was completely unimpressed with the fit I was throwing. She sat down at her desk, pulled a piece of paper out of a drawer, and said to me, still calm but very firmly, “Sit down, Melissa.” In a school this small, the teachers know who everyone is.

I sat at a desk in the front row, staring daggers at her. My face was probably as red as Holly’s, but for a very different reason.

Mrs Williams finished writing whatever it was on this paper, then folded it up and put it in an envelope and taped it shut. She stood and handed it to me.

“Take this home to your mother. This is for her to open, not you.”

I saw that she had taped it twice on both creases of the envelope, so there was no way I could try to peel off the tape and read it and put the tape back. I stood up and snatched the envelope from her, then stomped out into the hall. Holly was waiting for me.

“What you did right there isn’t going to help,” she said.

Her eyes were still dripping a little but she wasn’t actively crying anymore. I put my arm around her shoulder, thinking I was the mature one consoling her.

“We’ll see. She can’t do that and I will make it stop.”

Holly shook her head like she was exasperated. “No, really, Mel, you don’t know what you’re talking about.”

I stroked her shoulder with my arm around her. “Do you want to talk about it?”

Holly looked at the ground. “No, please, I would rather not. Let’s just go home, okay?”

I was still fuming mad when mom came home from work. The instant she walked through the door, ignoring how tired she must have been, I erupted again.

“Do you have any idea what Holly’s teacher did to her today, mom?” I was yelling as if mom was the one who had done it.

Mom was carrying a bag of groceries and tried to keep walking to the kitchen.

“Yes, Melissa, I do know.”

I got my little Perry Mason attitude going. “Really? ‘Cause I don’t think you do! They quit using corporal punishment in public school here and you told me Valley Christian doesn’t use corporal punishment. And yet Holly’s teacher gave her a really bad spanking today! So tell me, did you know that?”

Mom sighed and put the groceries on the counter. “Yes, honey, I did know that. Her teacher told me before it happened that she was going to do it, and I approved. It’s school policy.”

Oh my God. I could not believe this betrayal from my own mother.

“What? What in the hell is this?”

Then it was mom’s turn to explode. “Sit down and shut your mouth this instant, young lady, or Holly will not be the only girl in this house with a sore bottom!”

Oh my God, times 100! This was the first time since I was 8 since mom had even suggested laying a hand on me. Also, Holly was sure to have heard mom yell that, and I felt bad that I had added to her embarrassment.

I was really scared and did both of the things mom told me to do immediately. Then mom looked at the ceiling and sighed really heavily again. She reminded me of the woman in those ‘Calgon, take me away,’ commercials. She closed her eyes and took some deep breaths, then sat at the kitchen table across from me. Mom took a couple more deep breaths, then started to talk.

“Melissa, I am very stressed today. I have also been worried about your cousin all day. You yelling and carrying on and throwing a fit like a toddler is not helping. So if I were you, I would be quiet and listen, because now it’s my turn to tell you a few things.”

She cleared her throat. “I did not tell you Valley Christian did not use corporal punishment. I said they do not use the paddle. In retrospect, I can see how it was a dirty trick, to use your exact words. No, I didn’t tell you about this school’s discipline policy, but in my opinion I had a valid reason for that. I wanted to give you a chance to start this school with a clean slate, and I hoped you would be good because you wanted to be, not because you were afraid of the consequences you might face for misbehaving. And quite frankly, kiddo, you blew it.

“I sent you to this school because I really don’t know what else to do with you. Honey, you’re mostly a good girl. You don’t smoke, you don’t use drugs, you don’t hang out on street corners, you don’t do any of the big things. You are far from what your grandma and grandpa would have called a juvenile delinquent. But you do a lot of little things. You are defiant to me a lot. You challenge my authority, you constantly talk back, you have a bad attitude on a regular basis. That is not fair to me. I am your mother and I do not deserve to be treated that way.”

I felt really ashamed. I held my head down and felt a couple of tears drop.

Mom kept talking. “There is no other way to say this, Melissa; you need discipline. And I think going to a fairly strict school with firm standards will be good for you. If I didn’t think that, I wouldn’t be sending you there. And yes, discipline includes being punished when you misbehave. I was hoping that wouldn’t really be something we would need to talk about, but obviously I overestimated things.”

This was the calmest lecture mom had given me in a couple of years, and it was still harsh, because everything she was saying was true. I still couldn’t look up, I was so ashamed of myself.

“I’m sorry, mom,” I said, trying not to cry.

“I believe you that you’re sorry, honey, but just saying you’re sorry isn’t going to cut it anymore. A lot of this is my fault, to be honest. I let you down because I haven’t really given you any consistent discipline like I should have, and I’m sorry for that. But those days are over. So first, let’s talk about your school’s discipline policy. I realize now that I made a mistake from keeping this from you to see if you would be good on your own.

“So here’s what happens. There’s a list of violations in the parents’ handbook that I’ll show you in a minute, and there are different levels of punishment for each level of violation. The teachers do have some leeway to use their own judgment of the circumstances, and there are some violations that mean an automatic higher level of punishment, but basically it works like this. The discipline system goes from week to week. For kind of little things or slip-ups, the teacher formally tells you she’s giving you a warning. That’s your chance to correct yourself.”

I knew it! I almost started to tell mom that I got a warning like that the other day, then thought maybe it would be just as well if she didn’t know about that right now.

Mom kept talking. “If you have already been given one warning in a week, then the next step is you have to do corner time. That’s so there is a punishment, but a mild one that will hopefully teach you to get your act together. And if that doesn’t get through to you and you misbehave a third time in a week, then your teacher has you stay after school and, well, she gives you a spanking.”

I couldn’t hold in my shock.

“What?” I didn’t yell when I said it, though. Mom had shut that down.

“Yes. The school administration doesn’t think you’re too old for it, and honestly, I also have come to see you’re not too old for it. You seem to have forgotten that you’re in a school that expressly follows Biblical teachings, and the rod of correction driving foolishness from the heart is certainly one of those teachings.”

“But mom, that’s treating me like a child!”

“Technically, you are still a child, young lady. And we don’t really talk about this, but your grandma spanked me all the way through high school, and I absolutely hated it at the time and swore I would never do it with any kid of my own. But I can see now that she was doing that for my own good.”

Yikes. “Are you going to start spanking me, mom?” I was genuinely afraid.

“Honey, let’s finish talking about school first. Holly had asked me not to tell you about this because she was extremely embarrassed, and I didn’t, just like I wouldn’t tell her something you asked me to keep private about you. But since you decided to involve yourself with her discipline, Holly fell asleep in class the other day and got a warning. Then she got sassy and got corner time. And she still didn’t get the message and talked back again. So on the third violation in a week, the teacher sends a note home informing me that my student is going to be spanked the next day after school. The teacher takes you over her knee and spanks you with her hand. And that’s what happened to Holly. I have no doubt she deserved it, and it was appropriate, but that doesn’t mean I’m glad it happened.”

The teacher sends a note home?

The teacher sends a note home?

Oh, shit! And I am so glad I didn’t blurt out that word. I felt my stomach drop when I made the connection. Mom kept talking.

“And if even a spanking doesn’t set you straight and you get in trouble a fourth time in a week, then you get parental detention.”

That sounded really ominous. “Um, what is parental detention?”

“The school sends a note for a parent to meet their student at the office after school. And then they give the parent and the student a private room for a little while.”

“What happens in that private room?”

Mom kind of rolled her eyes. “Take a guess, Melissa.”

I gulped like I was in a Bugs Bunny cartoon.

Mom continued. “Look, honey, it’s pretty common for parents to punish their kids at home for getting in trouble at school. It would be pretty rough to get a spanking from a teacher and then get another spanking at home. So this is the compromise. They discourage parents from giving girls two spankings in the same day by saying, ‘Let’s see if just the spanking from the teacher solves the problem, and if it doesn’t, then on the fourth time the parent gets involved in the school’s discipline process and can make their own decision what the punishment should be.’

“But you go to a school that is almost all traditional Christian families, so I think you can put two and two together as to what most of the parents’ decision is about the fourth punishment. But the good news is that this resets every week, so if you were on the edge, you only have to be good a few days and then you start fresh the next Monday.”

I really, really did not want to give her that envelope now that I knew all this. But I could only imagine how much worse it would go for me if I didn’t give it to her. My hand was actually trembling as I reached into my pocket. How ironic, yet fitting, that I had put the envelope which almost certainly sentenced me to a spanking in the back pocket of the jeans I changed into after school.

“Mom, I am so, so sorry.” That’s all I could say as I held the envelope out to her.

“Yep, this looks like the one Holly brought home,” she said as she took it.

Ugh! I am in high school and tomorrow I’m going to get spanked like a little girl. Whatever the next step up is from a horror movie, I’m living it.

Mom read the paper from the envelope. If she was frustrated with me already, then I don’t even want to know what she was thinking at that moment.

“Oh, this is just great. You’re getting a spanking for wilful insubordination. That’s one of the few things that means an automatic spanking even if you have no prior discipline that week. Of course, that’s what my daughter would be getting in trouble for. I am not very happy with you right now. Enjoy sitting down while you can, young lady, because this time tomorrow that chair you’re in won’t feel very good, and you deserve every bit of it. Oh, and by the way, it says you told Melissa’s teacher that spanking her is illegal. No, it isn’t. Private schools can legally choose to use corporal punishment.”

Mom is a paralegal, so I guess she would know.

It was a bad sign that she was calling me ‘young lady’ so much. No one ever says that to girls when they’re behaving well. I was seriously pushing it by asking this question, but I had to know.

“Mom, if I get a parental detention, what are you going to do?”

Mom sighed really heavily one more time and closed her eyes for a second. She was right on the verge of yelling again.

“Melissa Ann Stevenson, I have not put you over my knee since you were 8 years old. But so help me God, if you get in trouble at school four times in one week, then what your teacher does tomorrow is going to seem like patty-cakes. Are we clear?”

I put my head back down. “Yes, ma’am.”

I don’t think I ever said ‘yes ma’am’ to my mom before. I was starting to feel like it was in my best interests to start doing that more often.

Mom showed me the paper. There were some instructions for me. I can’t deal with this anymore tonight. I feel sick to my stomach. I’m going to quit writing for now. There’s that line in movies and stuff when someone says, “Say your prayers!” Well, that’s me right now. But if my mom thinks I deserve this, I don’t think God is going to let me off the hook, either.

****

Dear Diary,

It’s 2.00 in the morning. I’m so anxious about tomorrow. I need to vent and there’s no one awake to talk to, and I don’t want to say any of these things to anyone anyway, so I’m just going to write them down here. I guess I’ll go back to where I ended off and fell asleep before waking up just now.

Mom told me she was going to show me the rules in the handbook Valley Christian gives to parents, but we got distracted and forgot. It doesn’t matter, I am newly motivated to be the best behaved girl they have ever seen.

Anyhow, mom looked over the paper from the envelope Mrs Williams had given me and then handed it to me to read. It was an actual pre-typed form; they plan for these things! It said, ‘Discipline Notice’ at the top. In fact, that notice is on my desk here next to me while I write this.

I don’t want to copy the whole thing, but basically it says, ‘Dear Blank (the teacher writes in the parent’s name), this notice is to inform you that your student, Blank (and then there’s my name) has violated the school code of behavior as follows.’

Then there are some blank lines for the teacher to fill in, and Mrs Williams pretty much summed up the tantrum I threw and the way I yelled at her, and finished by saying I was guilty of wilful insubordination. And then it says that as a result of my misconduct, ‘the school will be taking the following disciplinary action.’

Then there’s another couple of blank lines, and Mrs Williams wrote in, ‘Spanking by primary teacher.’

Apparently it’s the rule that your main teacher, which I never heard called ‘primary teacher’ until I saw this form, is the one who punishes you. In a way, I guess that’s lucky. I have already seen how Mrs Carlson got really cross with me when I talked back to her. But I can’t help thinking it might be even worse if Mrs Williams did it, since she was the one I was insubordinate toward, and she might want to really show me who’s boss.

Then there was more pre-typed stuff that says, ‘Please understand we love and care about your student and only seek to guide and correct her toward growing into a young woman who reaches her full potential.’

Yeah, thanks. Thanks a lot.

So then there is a part that asks the parent to please contact the office by lunch time to confirm the parent’s approval of the school’s disciplinary action, and reminding the parent that, ‘your student will be remaining approximately 30 minutes after school.’

Ugh. They have the parent call the school instead of bringing a note back so you can’t forge their name, and you can’t call them yourself and fake being your own parent because you’re in school at the time. And I won’t lie, I might have been tempted to do either of those things and say that mom was opting out.

And then there was a part that had instructions for me. I assume this whole exercise is meant to put me in my place, and I can already feel it working. First, it said I need to write a letter the night before and bring it with me to give to my teacher, as in the one who’s going to spank me, at the beginning of school.

I guess this is to make sure you actually do write it the night before and don’t try to crib it during lunch or something. I mean, I can see what they’re trying to do here. They want you to think it over and sleep on it, and I get it that they want you to learn a lesson out of the whole thing. It’s still mortifying. I feel so sympathetic for Holly now that I know she had to do all this.

Anyhow, the form says you have to write this letter of apology, explaining in your own words:

1. Why you are being punished;

2. What you will do to improve your behavior;

and 3 Accepting responsibility. The student should compose this letter on her own, without parental input.

So they really want you to take personal responsibility, not just repeat whatever your parent tells you to say.

Then it tells me that I need to memorize the following Bible verse so I can recite it to my teacher, and in the blank for that section Mrs Williams put, ‘Hebrews 12:11’. I didn’t see her get out a Bible when she filled out the form yesterday, so she must have just known that verse off the top of her head.

Then there’s more pre-typed instructions, and aren’t they a load of fun for a self-conscious teenage girl to read:

‘A spanking consists of 20 firm swats.’

Twenty firm swats!

‘Administered with the teacher’s open hand on a clothed posterior. You will be spanked in private, with no other students present. You are expected to accept your punishment with a good Christian attitude.’

I guess that means you just take it and try to seem contrite.

And then this threatening thing: ‘Misbehavior, moving from position, or defiance during the punishment will result in additional swats. A swat which is not correctly received will be repeated. Any resistance or refusal to accept the designated punishment will result in a parent being contacted immediately, and continued resistance or refusal may result in expulsion from the school.’

After my recent lecture from mom, I don’t even want to know what kind of torture chamber might be in store for me if they had to actually call her while I was already getting spanked at school. So I am pretty determined to endure this, no matter what. And the more I thought about it, I was sure this would be agonizingly childish to go through, but 20 spanks with just someone’s hand over your skirt doesn’t seem all that bad.

Or does it? I heard Holly’s reactions and saw how she was sobbing after. Is she just a wimp? I dunno, she’s kind of athletic, too. She said she’s going to get on the volleyball team with me, so I would have to say she’s fairly tough. When I got spanked years ago last time, it was more like firm pats to send a message than a serious spanking. So I don’t really have enough experience in this area to make an educated guess what it might feel like.

After having dinner, Holly having asked if she could eat in her room and mom not objecting, I finished my homework and decided I should swallow my pride and write that letter of apology. But first, I felt like there was one more person involved in this whole thing to whom I still owed an apology, and that would also give me an excuse to find out what I should be ready for.

Holly had been in her room pretty much ever since we got home from school. Mom had gone in and talked with her for a little while.

I knocked on her door and heard, “Come in.”

I did and closed the door. I preferred that mom not overhear this conversation. Holly only had the lamp on her nightstand turned on, and ‘Sailing’ by Christopher Cross was playing on her record player. I guess she wanted something mellow on after all of the everything today. She was lying on her tummy on her bed with her head on her pillow, and was just wearing a T-shirt and panties. Her shirt was short enough that I could see part of her panties and the curve at the lower part of her bottom that the panties didn’t completely cover. It looked like she had gotten a sunburn down there, but obviously that wasn’t what the redness was from.

Ooh! Was I going to look like that?

I decided to spare her the humiliation of asking if she would show me.

“Hey, can I talk to you for a second?” I asked.

Holly rolled over and sat up. She winced a little bit when she was sitting.

“Sure, what’s up?”

I tried not to sound like I was talking down to her, but I was genuinely worried about her, because I still had the mistaken idea that she was the one who needed my help, not the other way around.

“Holly, are you okay?”

She smiled ruefully. I have been waiting since 8th grade for a chance to use that vocabulary word.

“Kind of.”

“I mean, are you upset or anything?”

She replied. “No. I’m just hurt and embarrassed about all of this. And I feel like I let everybody down. And it’s really weird because I feel like I honestly deserved it and I feel like, I don’t know, I have repented or something.”

I went over and sat next to her.

“Listen, I am so, so, so sorry I made this more embarrassing for you. I’m sorry I stood outside and listened. I had no idea that would be happening, I just wanted to wait for you. And I am so sorry for going ballistic at your teacher. I thought I was protecting you. I hope you know that even though I made a fool of myself and embarrassed you, I only got mad like that because I love you so much. So, I just want to know, are we good?”

Holly gave me a hug. “We have always been good, Mel.”

I couldn’t quite look her in the eye when I asked this next part.

“I’m sure this is hard to talk about, but now that I’m getting it too, can you tell me what I’m in for?”

What she said did not make me feel better.

“It’s the most humiliating thing that’s ever happened to me in my life. They have this whole little ritual, and it’s just really hard the way they totally make you…”

I said what I had been thinking earlier. “They put you in your place?”

“Yes, exactly,” she said. “Trust me, just leave your pride at the door.”

Then I asked, “What about, um, what she actually does?”

I noticed that neither of us could bring ourselves to say the word ‘spanking’.

I continued. “Look, Holly, I’m totally not calling you a wimp, but just her hand on your skirt isn’t all that bad, right?”

I wasn’t really asking. I was begging for her to tell me what I wanted to hear.

She sighed like she was trying to explain something to a really naïve person.

“It’s unbearable, Mel. It feels like you sat on a stovetop. And they don’t do it over your skirt.”

I was in shock. I didn’t want Mom to overhear, so I did one of those whisper-yells.

“What? The rules say it’s on a clothed posterior!”

Holly rolled her eyes as if I was dumb and should already know this.

“You wear panties under your skirt, don’t you?”

“Well, yeah! Obviously!”

Again, as if I was dumb and should have known this: “Well then if they flip up your skirt, you still have clothing on your posterior.”

What is with these exact words with this whole school discipline thing? First my mom does that, “They don’t use a paddle,” trick, and now there’s this! I didn’t bother asking Holly if it’s mortifying to have your underwear exposed like that. I’m pretty sure I can figure that one out myself. I tried to come up with some other, less horrific thing to talk about for a bit, and then I said goodnight and left.

Then I came back here in my room to write the letter. Even after everything I have been told, I’m in denial. I can’t stop telling myself that maybe if I write a super good apology letter, somehow Mrs Carlson will see that I really learned my lesson and won’t need to actually go through with it.

Here’s what I came up with:

Dear Mrs Carlson,

 I am writing this letter to you about my behavior at school. Today, as you probably know, Mrs Williams had to discipline my cousin, Holly, who is in her class. I was waiting for Holly outside the room and overheard it. I was under the impression that corporal punishment was not allowed at Valley Christian Academy, which I now know is incorrect. Because of my misunderstanding, I got very angry and sort of lost control, and was extremely rude to Mrs Williams after Holly left her classroom. I yelled at her and made a suggestion that she was abusing the girls in her class. I was insubordinate, which means I was deliberately disrespectful and disobedient to a teacher, and I have absolutely no right to act that way.

 I was really worried about what Valley Christian would be like, and you have been so nice to me and made me feel welcome, even when I talked back to you the other day, which I also sincerely regret. I owe it to you and the other teachers to be respectful in return. I am so very sorry for the way I behaved to Mrs Williams, as well as making you look bad because I am one of your students. I hope you will let her know that I apologize for the way I acted to her. And I am truly sorry for how my behavior reflected on you.

 I will work really hard on my temper and my self-control. I will make sure I understand school rules and not make rush decisions when I don’t know all the facts. And I will make sure I respect your and other teachers’ authority and not try to interfere when they are doing their jobs. And I will try my best not to raise my voice, especially to any of the school staff. I know there is no excuse for my behavior, and I admit that I deserve to be punished for what I did. I did not understand that corporal punishment is allowed at this school, and my cousin Holly is away from her parents right now and I felt very defensive about her. I realize that this does not in the least justify how I behaved, but I hope you know that it was because of that specific situation and it will not happen again. And I will accept whatever consequences you feel are necessary to address the problem I caused.

Sincerely,

 Melissa Stevenson’

 I hope I wasn’t trying to be too clever with the hint about ‘whatever consequences you feel are necessary’, as opposed to the consequence they already told me I’m going to get. Maybe that line will work. Maybe she’ll read how contrite I am and decide some other punishment is good enough. The rules do say teachers have some leeway to use their own judgment, right? I feel like when Linus writes a letter to the Great Pumpkin talking about how sincere he is.

I decided to look super cute tomorrow because maybe that will also help persuade Mrs Carlson what a good girl I really am, and at least a nice outfit will help me feel better about myself, whatever happens. I’m going to wear one of my favorite skirts that’s sky-blue-and-tan plaid with a sky-blue blouse. I’m also wearing my gold cross pendant, because it can’t hurt to seem pious. Look at this believing Christian girl who has repented and seen the error of her ways, Mrs Carlson. Surely you don’t need to take the unnecessary step of spanking her when she has already accepted the Lord into her heart?

The skirt is also loose-fitting. If I can’t talk my way out of this and Mrs Carlson is determined to go through with it, I’m hoping maybe she will see clear not to pull my skirt up. But if worse comes to worst, I would rather not go through the awkwardness of having her try to pull up a tighter-fitting one. For once in my life, I wish I had some granny panties. Since I don’t, I’m wearing the fullest-fitting cotton ones I’ve got. I’m still telling myself I’ll get out of this, but if I don’t, I will take whatever small amount of protection and dignity I can get.

I’m also going to follow Holly’s advice and put my hair in a ponytail. She said she didn’t like having her hair hanging down all over in her face when, you have to get in that position. It was hard for me to even write that. Geez, this is going to suck so bad.

Okay, I have to try to get back to sleep so I can deal with whatever happens.

****

Dear Diary,

I’m sitting on a pillow while I write this. I’m going to write down what happened and hope that helps me get it off my chest.

As soon as I walked in my classroom, I went up front and handed Mrs Carlson an envelope with my apology letter in it. Like my Discipline Notice, I double taped it closed, and for the same reason. I really, really did not want anyone else reading that. Heck, I didn’t want her to read it, but of course she has to. She knew as well as I did what was going to happen after school, but she was still very nice and kind to me. I just have to say that for an uptight, strict, churchy person, she is surprisingly reasonable.

I’m glad for that, because at the same time she was inflicting this on me, she also helped me get through it. I had a momentary thought as I handed her the envelope about how pretty she was, like my mom is, and I don’t tell her enough. Mrs Carlson was wearing a gray checked calf-length skirt and a white long-sleeved blouse. Her blonde hair was parted on one side and she wears, what are those kinds of glasses called? Oh, yeah, tortoise shell. And she wore flats; I kind of get the sense that high heels are seen as ‘worldly’ by some people here, but even in flats, she’s about two inches taller than me.

I was on my absolute best behavior all day. Instead of worrying about what was ahead of me, I tried to focus on the idea that if I wowed her, it would change her mind and I would get mercy. During lunch, Holly and I sat with two other girls that we’ve started getting to know and feel like we can trust, and we found out quite a few things. It turns out that it was all over the school that Holly got spanked yesterday. Everyone knew because at the end of the day, when her class was getting up to leave, Mrs Williams told her to go ahead and stay in her seat. Well, everybody knows very well what that means, and girls talk, and it’s a small school. Nobody knew yet that I was getting it, though. Why would they? And apparently spankings at school are both absolutely dreaded and at the same time accepted as part of life. As the year gets going, I found out, including everyone in school from 9th through 12th grade, it’s not unusual for 2 or 3 girls to get spanked by their teacher in any given week, once in a while even more, especially getting close to a holiday when everyone gets a little too relaxed. And one of the girls we were talking to, Jennifer, said that at least it saves her from getting another spanking later at home. I keep forgetting that I go to school with girls for whom that’s common in their families. Usually it’s a couple of weeks after the start of the year before spankings really get going, because everyone who has already been at this school tries really hard to be perfect at first, but of course nobody can keep that up forever, and then they start getting in trouble. I got the impression that it was rare for anyone to get spanked this soon after the start of school, and I think that’s because Holly and I are new here and so we’re too dumb to keep our mouths shut longer.

Also, it’s sort of understood among the girls that you don’t make fun of anyone who got spanked. It could very well be you next time, and also everyone knows it’s embarrassing enough without your peers teasing you, too. One thing that surprised me, though, is that even though I was told everyone hates and fears this punishment, nobody resents it or thinks their teachers are being unfair. And evidently I’m kidding myself if I think I can just tough it out, although Holly already told me as much. Jennifer said, and Megan, the other girl, confirmed, that they have never heard of anyone making it through a spanking from a teacher without crying. I don’t know what exactly I was expecting, but after that little discussion, I simultaneously felt in some ways relieved, and in some ways even more terrified.

This wasn’t a PE day, so I wouldn’t be seeing Holly again for the rest of school. When lunch ended, I asked her to do two things for me, which she agreed to. One was to wait for me because I didn’t want to walk home alone after this. The other was to please wait by the office and not by the classroom. I didn’t want her to hear it when it happened.

I was still on my best behavior for the rest of the day, but my plan to be cool as a cucumber failed completely and I was a nervous wreck for the afternoon. When the final bell rang, everyone else in class started getting up and putting various things in their bookbags, but Mrs Carlson said, “Melissa Davidson, you may stay in your seat.”

Every single girl turned and stared at me for a second. But then they got back to what they were doing and eventually it was just Mrs Carlson and me in the room. Oh God, this was really happening to me! Followed by a silent prayer; oh God, please don’t let this happen to me.

Mrs Carlson did not act mean at all. But she did act very authoritative, even more than usual.

“Melissa, come sit in the front row.”

Usually, she would say please when she told you to do something. I guess right now she was just ordering me to remind me that she was in charge. I did what she said, and then she came around to the front of her desk and sat on the edge. I could feel myself trembling, and I’m sure she noticed.

“Melissa, from now until I give you permission to leave, you are not to speak unless spoken to, and you are to look me in the eye when I speak to you. When I tell you to do something, you are to do it immediately. Do you understand?”

With the meekest voice I have ever heard myself talk in, “Yes, ma’am.”

“I know this is scary for you, and we don’t need to pretend otherwise. But if you do as you’re told and take what’s coming obediently, we can get this over with, and then put it behind us and move on. I care deeply about all my students and I care deeply about you, and you have impressed me even though you have had some behavior issues this week. I know you can do better than that. You’re not being disciplined because you’re a bad person. You’re being disciplined to remind you that you’re a good person. Alright?”

Still very meekly, “Yes, ma’am.”

I never would have believed you could be lectured with compliments, but it turned out this was worse. It just reminded me how terribly I have acted. Not just in school. In general. With Mrs Williams. Mrs Carlson. My Mom. I was actually starting to feel like I would rather pay a penalty and make up for it than keep feeling this way.

Mrs Carlson started talking/lecturing again. “Do you have any questions you want to ask me first?”

I was far from too proud to beg at that point, and I knew it wouldn’t do any good. But that doesn’t mean I wasn’t going to try. I went with this.

“Mrs Carlson, please don’t think I’m being defiant by asking this. I’m just trying to understand. Is there something else we could do? Why does this have to be my punishment?” I still could not bring myself to say ‘spanking’ out loud.

I thought she would either get really defensive or really cross, but she did neither. She was still kind but firm. I think she has pretty well seen all of this before.

“The board of this school, the administration, the church we’re affiliated with, our staff, and I personally, believe that spanking is a biblical mandate for disciplining children. I am not putting you down when I say that. I’m very aware that you’re growing into a young woman. But you’re still a high school student, you’re under your mother’s care, and as far as the school day is concerned, you are under my care. So in the context we are talking about, you are a child. I’m sure that you feel you’re too old to be spanked, but it’s the other way around. A young lady of your age should know how to behave and what is expected of her. If you have a problem behaving the way you know you should, then it’s a matter of poor judgment or immaturity. So we, myself and everyone else I just mentioned, strongly believe that you shouldn’t need more than a couple of reminders before you get a strict consequence. We don’t wait to spank until a minor problem could have been gotten under control. We give you a couple of chances and then spank to prevent a minor problem from getting out of hand. And that’s also why whatever discipline you have had gets wiped clean at the end of the week. We’re all very aware that girls will be girls and you’re going to need correction sometimes, but we don’t want to keep that hanging over your head.”

I halfway raised my hand so she didn’t think I was speaking without being spoken to.

“May I ask one more thing?”

“Sure.”

“Mrs Carlson, I umm,” (man, this was hard to say), “I heard that you’re going to flip up my skirt. Is that really necessary? I’m sorry, please don’t think I’m being defiant. I’m just really nervous because, well, you’re not my mother, you know?”

“Melissa, let me ask you a personal question. Does your mother spank you at home?”

Hmm, didn’t see that one coming. And we’re about to get really personal, anyway.

“No, ma’am. Not since I was about 8.” I was about to add that I suspected she was thinking about making some changes in that department, but thought better of it.

“Alright, well then that will help me explain this. Most of the parents here are fairly traditional about child-raising, and that includes young ladies who are your age. Most of the girls who go to this school, and I mean the vast majority, are disciplined with spanking at home. In families like this, it’s common that if a girl gets in trouble at school, she will get spanked later at home for that. I have taught before in another Christian school that used the paddle, and it bothered me to know that a girl I had to paddle would very likely get a whole other spanking later that night. That’s a lot for a girl to take, and it doesn’t seem fair to me to be punished twice for a single incident. Everyone else among teachers and administration here agrees.

“The reason we spank the way we do is a compromise with the parents who spank at home, and because that’s almost everyone, we felt that it was fair to make this a general policy. We give enough of a spanking here so that parents won’t think that their daughter hasn’t been disciplined enough and needs more later at home. Our compromise is, let us give enough of a punishment that you as a parent don’t need to repeat it, and then if the misbehavior continues, at that point we’ll invite you to the school to administer your own discipline. In the big picture, sweetheart, this is actually easier on most of the girls than the alternative. At the same time, we don’t want to overdo it.

“Between you and me, there are a few parents around who I otherwise admire but who I feel spank too hard. And I say that as a mother who uses that kind of discipline in my own home. I’m fairly sure I left bruises more than once on a girl I paddled at the previous school I was at, and to this day I have a hard time living with that. So we just use an open hand. For that to be effective, though, you do need to feel it, because this is after all a punishment. So we spank over underwear with only our hands as a compromise, so you feel it but won’t get marks or bruises, while still keeping your modesty.”

Then she smiled kind of like we had an inside joke and added, “And sweetheart, clearly I am not your mother, because if you were my daughter, your underwear would be coming down and I would be spanking your bare behind.”

I suddenly remembered Angela. Mrs Carlson’s actual daughter sits a row in front of me. Holy cow, there’s a girl in my class who gets bare bottom spankings at home! And then I considered that Angela was probably far from the only one in my class in that predicament. I thought about Mom’s threat yesterday about getting in trouble a fourth time in a week and wondered how close I was to joining them.

And I had not really thought about it before, but Mrs Carlson calls the girls in her class ‘sweetheart’ quite a bit. Mrs Carlson snapped me back from getting lost in thought. It was sort of amazing to see and hear how she was so gentle and so strict at the same time.

“Melissa, you need to understand something. This little talk like we’re having right now is not normally part of this process. But as I said, I know you’re scared because you’re new here and new to being punished this way. I’m willing to cut you some slack, but there is a limit to that and I expect you to do exactly as instructed when this session actually starts. And it will go easier for you if you accept that you’re not going to talk your way out of this.”

Oh my gosh, she saw right through me! I felt really stupid, thinking I was somehow going to outsmart someone who had spent years dealing with this exact kind of thing and also knew what it was like to be a mother. All I could do was put my head down and say, “Yes, ma’am.”

Then things got serious, as if they weren’t enough already.

“Melissa, I want you to get up and come stand in front of me. And I want you to put your hands behind you so I know you’re paying attention and not fidgeting.”

While I was getting up and somehow forcing my legs that felt like rubber to the front of the room, Mrs Carlson went over by the door where there were two straight-back, armless wooden chairs next to each other for visitors. She picked up one of the chairs, put it in front of her desk, and sat down. I stood about three feet in front of her. I remembered she had told me I had to look her in the eye while she was speaking, but I really didn’t want to. What I wanted to do is crawl in a hole and hide. I looked straight at her, feeling more contrite than I ever have before, while she talked. I wondered if what she was about to do to me would feel as blistering as her words did. Not because she was yelling or mean, but because, like my mom’s lecture the night before, everything she was saying was true and I couldn’t deny it.

“Melissa, I read your letter of apology. Twice, in fact. I think you meant it when you said how sorry you are and that you take responsibility. I’ve seen plenty of letters like that one in my time here, including quite a few that were unserious and just saying whatever the girl thought she needed to say. What you wrote seems honest and sincere to me. I think you clearly understand what you did wrong and what you need to do going forward. So I am going to skip the scolding that I would usually be giving right now. But I want to impress on you how serious your misbehavior was. It’s one thing to make a foolish choice or to use poor judgment. It’s quite another when you are deliberately disrespectful. I’m willing to take into account that you did not understand the whole situation, but on the other hand, not knowing the whole situation is exactly why you should have controlled yourself instead of overreacting. That’s what maturity is, young lady. Respect for appropriate authority, be it a parent or a teacher, is something very important and defiance of that authority is absolutely unacceptable. Insubordination is a spanking offense just by itself, and this was your third instance of misbehavior this week, so you would have had it coming either way. So you very much deserve the punishment you’re about to be given. Do you agree?”

I thought about Holly telling me to leave my pride at the door. It wasn’t enough to say I accept I’m going to get a spanking. I have to say I agree with it! I swallowed hard, like I was almost literally swallowing my pride, and said, “Yes, ma’am.”

I wondered if any girl had ever been brave enough, or insane enough, to say she didn’t agree.

Then she said, “Do you have a scripture you would like to share?”

Obviously she meant the one I was told to memorize. I sighed, not like I was exasperated, but like I didn’t want to say this. But I did it anyway. I know I have a defiant attitude sometimes. Okay, a lot of the time. And I really could feel how, bit by bit, I was being forced to surrender.

“Hebrews chapter 12, verse 11: No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.”

“Amen. What does that mean to you, Melissa?”

It took every bit of self-control I ever even dreamed about not to stomp or scream or throw something or I don’t know what, because I was so frustrated at how humiliating this felt. It was humiliating in the most horribly literal sense; being humbled. I had not realized until right that second just how cocky and smart-mouth and prideful I really am. But somehow I managed to keep looking her in the eye and babble something. I could hear my voice quivering.

“Um, it means to me that I really don’t want to do what we’re about to do, but I know it’s necessary and I hope it will help me avoid these kinds of problems and be respectful to you and Mrs Williams and everyone else here from now on.”

“Very good,” Mrs Carlson said. Then she unbuttoned the cuff on the right hand of her blouse and started to roll up her sleeve. I wondered if this is how people feel when they’re being led to the noose or the electric chair. I wasn’t going to die, of course. I just wanted to.

Then it got even worse as she said the most terrible words I have ever heard.

“Melissa, it’s time to take your punishment. Come here and lie across my lap.”

My heart was beating so fast you would have thought I had just run around the block. I went over to her right side and just did it before I could think about it any more. Maybe someday I will re-read this and think what a little drama queen I was, but that is not how I felt at the time and not how I feel even now hours later. I felt less than childish. She could have just made me go over her knee and nothing else and that would have been excruciating all by itself. Having to be in that position, how agonizing it was to submit myself to an adult authority, made me understand just how much of a brat I am. My hands were flat on the floor on one side, my head down and my pony tail dangling but keeping my hair out of my face. I was on the balls of my feet on the other side. I was actually in sort of a lunge position until she put her hand on the small of my back and gently pushed me down until my weight was on her legs.

Next, some final instructions. “Melissa, you are to remain in place from now until I tell you that you may get up. Your hands and feet need to stay on the floor and you are to keep your eyes forward. I’m going to give you 20 spanks.”

That word had started to burn my ears. I wish she would at least say ‘swats’.

“If you squirm or move out of place, that spank will not count towards your 20. And you are not to speak until I tell you we are finished. Do you understand?”

From somewhere near the floor I said, “Yes ma’am.”

Oh, how I wished she would just get this over with.

That’s when I felt her start tugging at the hem of my skirt, and next thing I knew it was above my waist. My legs felt a little bit cold from the breeze the air conditioning was making. I was absolutely helpless and vulnerable. I could feel that my panties had ridden up some from bending over her lap. Not only was it mortifying to know that a noticeable undercurve of my bottom cheeks was visible to her, it also left skin that would have absolutely no protection from her hand. There is no word for how I felt. Embarrassed, humiliated, childish, are all walks in the park compared to what this was.

I felt her right hand rest on the small of my back next to her left hand.

Then suddenly her voice changed back to Nice Sympathetic Mrs Carlson.

“Melissa, look at me, sweetheart.”

I had to kind of turn my body to look up at her but figured she wouldn’t count that as leaving position yet.

In the kindest and most gentle voice I had heard yet from her, she said, “There’s only you and me here. You don’t need to feel ashamed to cry.”

That actually did bring a tear to my eye, because she was saying this out of concern for me and she understood how hard this was for me to go through. I couldn’t manage a “yes, ma’am” without losing my composure. I just nodded my head.

Still gently, she said, “Turn back over and look forward.”

With that, we went right back to the strict version of Mrs Carlson.

“Melissa Davidson, you have been wilfully insubordinate to a teacher at this school and you are now going to be punished. I’m giving you this spanking to teach you a lesson and correct your behavior. I want you think about what you did while you get your punishment.”

I felt her resting her hand on my right cheek. Then her hand was gone and I knew what that meant. I felt almost like when you’re on a roller coaster right at the top before it drops, when the tingling in your stomach is about to drive you crazy.

Then I got the first smack. I was not even close to ready for how bad it hurt. It was a really hard spank right on the area I was worried and self-conscious about, on the lower part of my right cheek. There was an agonizing sting that just stayed there, right on the surface of my behind. I actually whimpered, and this was just the first one! I was certain I could not survive the rest of this.

Maybe 5 seconds or something like that later, the same part of my left cheek got the same thing. I didn’t whimper again, but I did gasp. I had told myself I would count the spanks in my head to see if that helped to endure it. Number three and four were the same thing, a little bit higher up and closer to the middle of my buns. Now that I could compare, a spank completely on the panties stung a little less than directly on skin, but not enough to make all that much of a difference. I would never have imagined that Mrs Carlson had the strength to spank as hard as she was. She was still pausing a few seconds between each one and the sting and the heat just sat there and simmered in between each swat.

Number 5 was on the very edge between panties and lower cheek on my right side, right on top of two areas that were already searing. That one really got a reaction. Too much of one.

Without thinking, I yelled out, “Oww, damn it!”

Oh no! I talked and was defiant and swore all at the same time! She already disciplined me just for saying a fake swear like ‘crap’. What was she going to do now? Extra spanks? A whole other spanking? Call my mom?

I started blubbering, “I’m so sorry, I’m so sorry, I’m so sorry! I couldn’t help it!”

Instead, I was completely surprised to hear Nice Sympathetic Mrs Carlson again.

“Melissa, look at me.”

I did.

She said, “I’m going to pretend I didn’t hear that. In return, you’re going to take the rest of this obediently. But I will count that one as not correctly received and do it over. Okay?”

Even though she was in the middle of turning my backside into a bonfire, I was unspeakably grateful for giving me mercy for what could have gone much, much worse.

I half-sobbed, “Thank you, Mrs Carlson.”

Then I turned back around without being asked.

The do-over of number five caught me in the exact same place. That’s when I started having tears from the spanking itself, not just the nerves I had before it started. I could tell I wasn’t very far from the dam bursting. I told myself that I could at least hold on until I was halfway through. I still had that stubborn bit of pride left that she was going to have to break before this was over. And I don’t mean pride as in healthy self-esteem. I mean the bratty, defiant, arrogant kind of pride that got me here and truth be told probably should have gotten me this many times over from mom with how I behaved with her.

Number six, back on my left cheek, I guess so it wouldn’t feel neglected, convinced me I wouldn’t even make it to 10. I don’t know what that whimper/yelp/moan sound I made from that spank was, but it was kind of pathetic. A few seconds of making sure I felt the full sting from that one, and then number 7 and another whimper that I tried as much as I could to hold in. I could feel all the emotions I had bottled up almost like it was physical pressure and I still held it in, because I knew that when it finally did come out, it would be overwhelming. On number 8 I started actually crying, but the dam was just cracked, not broken.

I can’t be sure that what happened next really is what Mrs Carlson meant to do. But I have a strong feeling that it was. I actually was suffering more from holding everything in than I would if I just let it go, and she had to have been able to tell. After the way she had seen through everything else I was doing, and how many times she has had to discipline, I’m sure she could see that the longer I resisted letting it go, the more I was making this whole thing even more miserable for myself than it needed to be. There was a longer pause than there had been before between spanks, and she rubbed my back for a second to soothe me. And I swear, I think she decided to put me out of my misery and let me just release it all.

She gave me what felt like the hardest spank she could, directly on the tender spot on the undercurve of my left cheek, where my panties were ridden up enough for it to be partly skin where she connected. And that’s when I lost it. The spank itself hurt a lot.  It was a hard burning slap and it was too much for me to take it and hold everything in anymore. All of my guilt and bad feelings came rushing out all at once. Everything about making a complete fool of myself with Mrs Williams. Everything about how I embarrassed Holly. The guilt I felt about making Mrs Carlson, whom I had started to really like, look bad. And the built-up guilt from months of smarting off and arguing and disobeying my mom. And I started bawling uncontrollably.

Somewhere in the back of my head, I wondered if Mrs Carlson would wait and let me catch myself or sort of soothe me some more or something. But she didn’t, she just kept spanking. That was probably for the best. Since she wasn’t going to give me any fewer spanks than I was sentenced to, it was just as well she got it over with instead of prolonging my suffering with more waiting. I lost count of which spank was which after that. All I knew is that I was sobbing and my bottom was burning unbearably, and every few seconds there would be another really hard smack and more pain on top of what was already there and would make me have a burst of cries or yelps on top of the crying I was already doing. It felt like this went on for hours, even though obviously it didn’t.

Then suddenly I heard Mrs Carlson’s voice again.

“You get two more and then we’ll be done.”

She probably said that to make sure I knew I was getting the entire punishment I was assigned and my crying wasn’t going to stop it. The final two were the hardest yet, even worse than the super hard one that broke me. I heard myself wail with each one. Then her right hand was on the small of my back, so I would know she wasn’t raising it up anymore, and her left hand rubbed my back to soothe me like she had done before. I just laid there on her lap. I don’t know if I could have gotten up yet, even if she told me to. I was an absolute sobbing mess, and I was completely exhausted from enduring the physical part of the punishment and from being emotionally drained. Mrs Carlson hadn’t lowered my skirt yet and I didn’t even care. The air conditioner that had made my legs feel cold at first now was cooling off the raging fire that my butt had been turned into.

I don’t know how long it was, but eventually I got my sobbing under control, and then she put my skirt back down and said, “Sweetheart, we’re done now. You can get up.”

I was kind of wobbly but somehow got back up, and rubbed my rear end with both hands. Then I looked in Mrs Carlson’s eyes and felt my lip start to tremble again. She put her arms out and I just fell into her. I put my head on her shoulder and softly cried some more while rubbing my bottom, and she held me.

She talked very softly and said, “It takes character to admit when you’ve done wrong and take the consequences. And being a good Christian means that when someone has done wrong and makes amends for it, you forgive them. I forgive you, Melissa.”

My voice was really hoarse from crying and wailing, but I was able to whisper, “Thanks, Mrs Carlson.” Unlike the times when I have said this really flippantly to various people, I meant it.

Then she said, “And we’re not going to need to do this again for a long time, are we?”

I was not exactly in the mood to quibble, but I thought, ‘A long time? How about, we are never, ever going to do this again for the rest of my life?’

But all I said through my crying was, “No, ma’am, we won’t.”

I got this second burst of crying more or less under control, then she let go of holding me.

“Melissa, I told you your punishment is over, and it is, but I would appreciate it if you would do one more thing for me.”

Through tears, I said I will do anything she wants me to.

She said to me, “Tomorrow, I would like you to go apologize to Mrs Williams in person. You don’t have any reason to be afraid of her; she’s not angry with you. But you should give her a chance to do the Christian thing and forgive you herself.”

I nodded and said I would.

I went and got my bookbag and started walking to the door. She watched me start to leave and I felt obligated to say one last thing.

“Mrs Carlson?”

“Yes?”

“I’m sorry about my little outburst. Thanks for giving me a break. I know that could have gone badly for me.”

She gave me a little smile. “I don’t know what you mean, sweetheart. I don’t remember hearing anything.” Then she winked at me.

There’s still a few things I have issues with about Valley Christian over regular high school. But my teacher caring about me and the closeness, I can get used to. Even now while I’m writing this I know it’s going to take time for me to sort out how I feel about someone being that loving to me and at the same time so strict with me when they need to be. But I think it’s less of a contradiction than I used to assume.

I limped, and that’s not much of an exaggeration, to the main door and Holly ran to me and gave me a huge hug. We both cried a little bit. I don’t know how to explain it. It’s like we just had this understanding after both being through what we had within a day of each other.

When we let go, Holly smiled and said, “Wow, we’ve got a lot in common now, huh?”

That made me laugh even though I still had some tears running down.

I checked myself in the mirror on the back of my bedroom door when I got home. Ouch. It looks exactly like about 2/3 of my butt from the top to the bottom got sunburned. It feels like it, too. There’s this heat that is just smoldering like charcoal briquettes on a barbecue. All those threats you hear parents make about ‘until you can’t sit down!’ are true. And it’s a little bit stiff and sore to walk or even move very much.

Holly and I went by the drugstore on the way home and each got a tube of aloe vera. From the way I was walking and had obviously been crying, I hope the lady who rang me up didn’t figure out why I needed it. Even Holly is still kind of sore from hers yesterday.

We did sort of an, “I’ll show you mine, if you show me yours,” and her behind is still noticeably red, but not like the angry flaming red that mine is right now. The aloe vera is helping a bit, though.

I’ve actually only been home for a little while as I’m writing this, instead of before bed like I usually do. Mom still isn’t home yet, but she stuck a note on the fridge for Holly and me. She wants to have a family meeting tonight to talk about some rules we’re going to start having. I honestly don’t mind. I think it’s fair for her to have some rules for us after the way I have been for the last year, or more.

There was one more thing she also put up on the fridge, and I know she meant for us to see it. It’s a coupon for the drugstore. They have hairbrushes on sale right now. Ha ha, Mom, very funny. I am sure of two things; she was very amused with herself leaving this for us to find, and at the same time she’s not kidding. Which is fine, because I’m also sure of a third thing. I have more than learned my lesson. I do not care what I have to do, I don’t care what kind of angel I have to be from now on. I am not going to earn myself another spanking. Ever!

Two weeks later, though, I wrote:

Dear Diary,

I’m sitting on a pillow so I can write this…

The End

©  Caroline Richards 2021

If you would like to contact the author, please email me at:  carolinerichards6789@gmail.com