Fashions have a habit of repeating themselves, and not all are good memories.

By Joanna Jones

In the last couple of years there seems to have been a surge in interest in ‘onesies’, those pyjamas that fit you from head to toe (or at least neck to ankle) in a one piece garment.

My teenage daughter has recently taken to this craze and now already has three of these outfits. It is definitely her favourite form of nightwear.

On a number of occasions she has tried to persuade me to join in the fad, but I am sticking with my two piece pyjamas (or nightdress if it is warm or I want some fun with my husband). Apart from the general impracticality of the current designs (what happens if you need to get up in the middle of a cold night), for me the onesie will always have an altogether unpleasant association.

Apparently sometime as a young child my aunt came back from America having visited my uncle and his family. As a present she brought back my two brothers and I some onesie pyjamas which were what my uncle’s kids were wearing at the time. She thought them cute.

And so did we at first. They were admittedly comfortable and practical, even for running around the house in. However, unlike the modern designs (at least on this side of the Atlantic) they also included a ‘drop seat’, allowing one to visit the bathroom without need to strip the garment off.

Later we found out that also meant that area my parents liked to attend to if we misbehaved could be revealed quite simply. I think the first time that it happened we were in the final stages of the novelty of wearing them. I can’t remember what naughtiness we got up to but the result was that we all ended up over my mother’s knee where she undid the buttons and dropped the flap of the onesie, and her hand was vigorously applied to our respective seats.

Sometime (possibly a year or so) after, well after the onesies had ceased to be the novel, exciting form of play/nightwear they originally were, my mother’s brother was across visiting with all his family. During their fairly long summer vacation there were quite a few family get togethers et cetera given the rarity of them making the journey to England. On one of those visits Brian, my older cousin, arrived wearing his onesie in the middle of the day. He looked quite red eyed. Apparently he’d been rather nasty to his little sister before they’d set off and suffered the consequences.

To cut a long story short it seems my parents took a leaf out of my uncle’s child rearing manual. A month or so after their return a parcel arrived with three fairly identical, different-sized onesies inside; one for each of us and all of course with a button drop seat. Within a few months we all found that disobedience led to punishment that involved a whole new ritual, a ritual that survived basically until we ceased to be a burden on their wallet (ie until we had a job and home of our own!)

One of the last times I ended up in my onesie is the story I am about to recount. It occurred when I was nearly twenty, and was certainly one of the most embarrassing and painful punishments my mother gave me.

It was a Friday in early July in the midst of a heat wave. The sky was clear blue and it was the beginning of what promised to be another hot summer’s day. I was back from Uni, and my younger brother, who was eighteen, had just finished his A-levels. My older brother had just finished, due to graduate and was off on holiday round Europe with some friends in the meantime. My father had taken both Friday and Monday off and we were going to Grandma’s house for a long weekend. Grandma lived in the Lake District, which was a long drive from North London, even allowing for the relatively new at the time motorways that connected them.

Given the weather I decided on wearing one of my favourite tops and a shortish mini-skirt. There was no question of wearing tights, especially given cars of the time were not equipped with air-conditioning.

Thus, at around eight thirty in the morning, I came happily, dressed, down for breakfast. Unfortunately I was not to be happy for very long that day.

My mother took one look at what I was wearing and said frostily: “What are you wearing? You are going to your grandmother’s, not out with your friends, go and change immediately!”

Perhaps knowing that my mother never really approved of me wearing skirts that just covered my bum, even when going out with my friends who wore similar, I should have worn something more demure. Certainly I should probably have accepted what she said and done what I was told. However, that morning I was very much of the opinion that as a young adult I should be able to wear what I wanted.

Suffice to say an argument broke out between the two of us which got quite heated. I was of the view I could wear what I liked and what I did wear really was none of her business. She was of the view that I was living under her roof and visiting her mother, thus it very much was her business. As far as she was concerned I had some perfectly nice summer dresses that would keep me cool in the car as well as being far more suitable for the visit.

Eventually my father came in having half packed the car. After listening to the ‘debate’ for a while he said in a very reasonable voice: “Look Carol, you are going to your grandmother’s, think about what she will think, you’d better go and change.”

I knew then I was defeated, and I was not at all happy about it. In anger I replied: “Okay, but I am sure she wouldn’t mind, it’s not her who is the frumpy old cow!”

As I turned to return to my room, my mother gave out gasp of shock, then raised her voice in real anger. “How, how dare you call me a cow! Pyjama time! Right now!”

“Pyjama time.” I can remember the dreadful feeling every time it was uttered. If I was naughty out I would get told: “It’s pyjama time for you when we get home.” If a friend was in the house when I misbehaved she would be asked to go home as it was pyjama time for me. It was always highly embarrassing, especially as a teenager. However, my friends, or anyone else listening, no doubt thought I was just going to be sent early to bed. The reality was very different. The reality was it meant I was due a spanking.

Thus on that morning as my mother uttered those two words my blood ran cold. I looked first at my father in shock.

The look I got in reply was one of disappointment and resignation. As if to answer my unspoken question (more like plea I suppose) he said flatly: “What you said is totally unacceptable in this house. Do as your mother says.” He then walked out of the kitchen.

I looked at mum whose eyes were flashing with anger, and who was also clearly very upset that I should have used such an insult at her. I realised I had very definitely overstepped the mark.

I took the only sensible option and apologised.

It made no difference, as I begged to be let off (a futile exercise; once the words ‘pyjama time’ were uttered it was never, ever rescinded), she was adamant that I had really offended her, and that my apology would be accepted only when I was sufficiently sorry and she had a chance to calm down. Sufficiently sorry clearly meant at least after I had a sufficiently sore backside.

It was only after my dad put his head round the door and irritably told me that we did not have all day, to stop wasting time and get my sorry self changed that I gave up and, already crying, I traipsed back upstairs.

As I did so my brother looked out of his room and made some rather unsympathetic remark about my fate. My mother overheard from downstairs and shouted at him to behave unless he wanted to join me. She further told him to look out his onesie to take with him ‘just in case’. That rather deflated him, clearly having misjudged my mother’s anger.

However, he was still not in any actual trouble, whereas I most certainly was. I closed the door of my room and stripped completely with palpitations running through me. I then reluctantly found my onesie at the back of the drawer and even more reluctantly put it on.

Once on I knew that was it, it would be on for the rest of the day, and it was only the following morning that you could change back into normal clothes. It was part of the punishment. A reminder you were in disgrace, a reminder, as if having a sore bottom was not enough, that any further misbehaviour, no matter how minor could, and usually would, be met with further corrective action on their part.

My onesie was a hand-me-‘down’ (or should it be ‘up’) from my little brother who’d outgrown it quite a few years before. The garments never wore out; they did not suffer from overuse as none of us ever chose to wear them, of course. It was made of a fairly thick brushed cotton, so it was going to be an extra warm journey in the car. Of course for one part of my body it was going to be particularly warm indeed.

Having changed I went miserably downstairs and first resignedly fetched a bag that hung on the door of the under-stair cupboard. In it were three things; a home made leather strap (made out of an old belt which had been cut in half and then the two parts glued together), a wooden hairbrush and a longer thick wooden paddle (another item that had at some point made its way across the Atlantic.)

When we were younger it had most usually been the hairbrush, employed over the knee. However, in more recent years, as we got older, it was the case that while the frequency of spankings had certainly diminished the intensity of those that did happen most certainly had increased. My brothers and I agreed; the long wooden paddle bent over the kitchen chair was the worst. Sometimes more than one implement was used, even all three, and to be honest, though awful, getting the hairbrush first sometimes seemed a bit of a relief; it was almost a kind of warm-up for the other two if we were in really serious trouble.

I knew I was most certainly in really serious trouble.

As I crept back into the kitchen I heard my father saying we needed to get away in a reasonable time so to deal with me and then we would need to be straight on our way.

They both looked at me rather coldly as I put the bag on the table and, making another ineffectual apology went and stood in the corner and waited.

There was a pause and my father left the room. I heard him shouting to my brother to come down and help him finish packing the car.

Sometimes I was given quite some time to contemplate my behaviour in that corner, but clearly on this occasion that was not going to happen. As soon as my brother had replied to Dad’s call to help my mother was lecturing my back, telling me yet again how upset she was with me, how painful it was to have her daughter say that to her. I have to say I was quite shocked at how much she had clearly taken my insult to heart.”

I of course listened, but when I tried again to say how sorry I was I was firmly told that she did not want to hear my voice. That did not stop me completely making quiet apologetic noises though.

Eventually she ran out of steam and said: “If we had more time I would really give you what you deserve, but given we need to set off soon I will have to make do with the most thorough paddling that bottom of yours has ever got. Bend over the chair right now.”

I knew what her words meant; if she had time I would have had a long time over her knee with the brush before the strap and paddle. However, as she didn’t, I was going to get a very hard whacking with the paddle, certainly my least favourite implement. Despite her comment about ‘making do’, she was sentencing me to my most feared punishment: a straight cold spanking with that paddle.

Sure enough as I turned and plonked myself over the chair the mid-brown wood of that paddle was already visible, out of the bag.

Once in position I waited, nervously, miserably for her to start. First there was the hands fiddling on my lower back, one of the most humiliating aspects of the punishment was her insistence of being the one to adjust my attire before and after. Soon the buttons were undone, the flap was down, and a sudden coolness was sensed on my buttocks. Finally the garment was tugged a bit to ensure it was completely out of the way.

Then, a clatter as she picked up the blade. Then a loud Thwack!

I screeched. I doubt I had ever been hit quite so hard on a first spank before. The pain took my breath away. She started by giving me about ten really hard spanks, each separated by a pause during which my ears received further admonishments about my behaviour. After that she just started a rain of whacks, every one given, as far as my bottom could tell, as hard as she could. I cannot tell you how many I got, as the blows were thick and fast, but I can tell you that I bawled like a baby for the entire duration.

At one point it was too much and put my hands back to protect my utterly overwhelmed backside.

It was another mistake.

Mother put a hand on my back to stop me rising and with the other hand put the paddle down and stretched out to fish the strap out of the bag.

I was then told not to move my hands from being palm out in front of my bottom as she was going to strap them six times for being so silly as to interrupt the punishment. If I moved my hands it would not count!

That was truly awful as my hands and fingers were reduced to a red agony before I could put them back in front of me, to allow her to return to the core part of my punishment.

A modicum of sympathy was that after she kept her left hand on my neck, given I now was not in much state to grip the chair seat to ensure I stayed down (standing always meant extra) as the paddle was taken up again.

Eventually she stopped as I bawled into the chair seat. There was a bit of fiddling as the flap was fastened over my “seat” and then I was told to stand, but not to dare touch my bottom.

For a few minutes I was allowed to sob with a few tissues in the corner, before being taken to the sink and told to wash my face, which calmed me down a little more.

I was still being treated like a child, with no bottom rubbing allowed let alone an opportunity to lower the flap myself to see the damage in a mirror, before she was telling me to slip my shoes on. Directly after, I found myself sitting painfully in the back seat of the car in my onesie, with my brother next to me. Finally I was able to touch my bottom and my hands wriggled under me as I tried to somehow assuage the pain. To be fair on my brother he did not make fun of my distress, especially as the bag with the three implements was shoved in-between us on the back seat, with his onesie clearly visible at the top.

The journey was for me awful. For the initial part along some bouncy country roads my tender bottom objected. At one point I asked dad if he could take it a bit easier – the response from my mother was I should be quiet if I did not want to have the car stopped so I could pay a visit over her lap in the front seat! Clearly I had yet to be forgiven.

The journey was indeed hot and uncomfortable, especially as my dad would not allow the windows open on the motorway, so we had to rely on the fan.

The heat was further enhanced when we stopped for lunch in a rather hot and sticky “Little Chef”; I got strange looks in the cafeteria as we ate. Blushing, I miserably kept my head down and was glad at least nobody knew me there. I did manage to get my mother alone in the toilets and this time my teary apology was accepted by my mother, though my tentative plea to allow me to change into a summer dress, or indeed anything normal, to arrive at grandma’s house in was fairly kindly but firmly rebuffed. I was instead reminded of the family rules, and that my grandmother had seen me in my current state of attire before. It was a reminder for me to remain on my best behaviour for the rest of the day.

I have to say I was less than happy about that rebuff, and while dutifully accepting it at the time, I was not looking forward to the embarrassment of arriving mid afternoon in my special nightwear.

As expected, my grandmother was of course shocked to see me in my pyjamas, and looked suitably disappointed in my behaviour as her daughter explained the reason.

I took my mild telling off from her meekly as my bottom was still tender, and I certainly had no desire to have the flap covering my derrière dropped again in her house.

However, that was not to be. After dinner my brother suggested we all go for a walk in late evening sun. To be fair he always liked going on walks and in any case after being cooped up in the car all day going for a walk through the village and up the valley a bit would be something I too would normally heartily agree on.

As everyone agreed I asked if I could at least get changed for the walk. After all here everybody knew who I was. My mother again gently but firmly refused.

I appealed to my grandmother who took the easy way out and said it was not a matter she could get involved in.

After more begging and pleading failed to work and only succeeded in annoying my parents again, I eventually gave up and said irritably: “Fine, then I would prefer to stay here and go to bed.”

With that I stood, left the table and stomped up to the second bedroom, which I had to share with my brother.

Yes, yet another big mistake!

One thing my grandmother was very pernickety in was asking to leave the table, or everyone leaving together by mutual agreement. She was much more fussy on that than we were at home. It took five minutes for my mother to join me, and it was only on seeing her angry face and the presence of that bag in her hand that I realised what was happening.

“How dare you be rude to your grandmother like that. I thought you’d learned your lesson today, but it seems you are intent on behaving like a spoilt little child.”

“Mum, I am sorry, it’s just so embarrassing to have to…”

I was interrupted. “No more than the embarrassment I feel at your behaviour. My mother is shocked at the attitude you showed downstairs. When you are in trouble you accept your punishment gracefully and move on. You certainly do not start a sulky attitude.” Taking a breath she then continued. “Now, I am going to give you a choice: First you are now going over my knee for a good dose of the hairbrush. After, you can join us on the walk, where you’d better behave impeccably, or you can stay here and think about the thorough strapping I’ll give you when the rest of us get back.”

I looked in horror at her angry, implacable face. There was no point to argue for mercy.

“Very well I will go on the walk then,” I replied still a bit sulkily. Then, seeing her face darken slightly had at least the sense to say in a more apologetic voice: “I am sorry for my behaviour at the end of dinner mum.”

“Right come with me, you can apologise to your grandma first, and then you can go over my knee in the kitchen.” She replied.

“Please, can’t you do it here, not in front of everyone?” I pleaded.

However it was no use, I had been rude in front of everyone in stomping off from the table and my attitude just beforehand, so why should they not see me punished if they wanted. I was escorted downstairs where my brother and father were washing up.

After apologising very meekly to my Grandma my mum fished out the hairbrush, pulled out one of two chairs from a small table in the corner if the kitchen and sat down.

Within a few further moments I was facing the linoleum floor with my hands flat on its surface. I blushed beet red as my mother undid the drop seat once more. Looking up from my lowly vantage point I could see my brother was clearly distracted as he dried the dishes, while my father just gave the briefest of glances as he carried on scrubbing an oven dish in the sink. Behind me I heard my grandmother comment that I’d certainly been given a good going over that morning as my bottom was revealed.

“But, clearly not good enough,” replied my mother as she took the brush from next to her on the table and then proceeded to lay into my already of course very tender backside.

My embarrassment at my position was very rapidly forgotten as the brush seemed to reactivate all the pain from that morning. Within minutes I know I was wailing pitifully at the floor.

That did not have any effect on my mother though, whose arm ensured the hairbrush covered every inch of my behind quite a few times before I was able to stand, and told to clean myself up as we would be going out in a few minutes.

Despite as long a visit to the bathroom sink as I could get away with I was still a sniffing, red-eyed young lady as I slipped my shoes on.

The walk was as I expected embarrassing, made worse by meeting one of my grandmothers close friends, who was told what a naughty ‘girl’ I’d been and that I had a very sore bottom as a result.

It was a relief to put on one of my summer dresses the next day and put that hated onesie in the case, as usual hoping at my ‘advanced’ age I would never see it again.

So now you know why I will be leaving the latest fashion in sleepwear to others. For me the onesie has too many memories.

They are memories that my daughter as yet knows nothing about, though I fear when my mother sees her in her onesie on her next visit she may well regale her with some anecdotes from my childhood. I rather hope not though.

The End

© Joanna Jones 2013