Do parents always know what their daughters are getting up to?
We are back in the 1970s when physically disciplining ones offspring was still the norm. Mrs Janet Dove, mother of eighteen year old twins David and Hannah, is having a morning cup of tea with her friend, Wendy Johnson.
“You seem very preoccupied, Janet, is something wrong?” Asked Wendy, as she sipped her tea.
“Well, yes, there is, but it’s something I’m not very proud of,” replied Janet.
“Care to tell me about it?”
“I suppose I must; I need to tell somebody, get it off my chest,” replied Janet, almost in tears.
“Come along, dear, you can tell me. We’ve been friends for long enough.”
“I know, and you’re very kind. It’s Hannah, she’s stolen money from my purse,” said Janet.
“Oh my dear, how awful, are you sure?”
“Positive, I’ve eliminated David, and it certainly wouldn’t have been Frank.”
“Have you confronted her with it?” Asked Wendy.
“No, I didn’t discover it until after she’d gone to school.”
“So you don’t know that she actually did it?”
“Well no, but who else could it be?”
“Perhaps there’s some logical explanation?” Suggested Wendy.
“I hope so,” said Janet gloomily.
“If it does turn out that she did steal the money, what do you intend to do about it?”
Janet sighed. “I really don’t know.”
“If it was me, she’d be in for a good thrashing when she got home,” said Wendy.
“I couldn’t do that. You know how I feel about smacking,” said Janet.
“My dear Janet, I quite understand your reluctance, but under the circumstances I do think you need to be severe. After all, you don’t know what this will lead to.”
“Wendy, I know you’re right, but right from the start I set my heart against smacking and it’s worked up until now.”
“Sometimes we all have to make unpleasant decisions, but the welfare of the children must come first and sometimes stern measures have to be taken for their own good,” advised Wendy.
“Oh dear, I’m in such a quandary. Of course I shall have to discuss it with Frank when he gets home.”
“Naturally. Look, I’ll say no more, but if you decide to be really strict with her, our cane is always available, it’s never let us down yet,” urged Wendy.
“Thank you, Wendy, it’s kind of you to offer.”
All day Janet fretted about what to do, until finally Hannah arrived home. She immediately confronted her with the theft and, of course, she immediately denied it. However, Janet was convinced that Hannah was guilty and she continued to press her for the truth.
Finally, Hannah gave in.
“Alright, alright, I did it, so what?” She screamed, stamping her foot on the floor in anger.
“Oh Hannah, how could you?” Cried an anguished Janet. “After all we’ve done for you.”
“That’s just it, you haven’t. You’re so mean with money,” cried Hannah.
“How can you say that? We give you pocket money every week; I buy you tights and make-up,” said Janet.
“Oh big deal,” exclaimed Hannah scornfully. “I get nothing compared to the other girls at school. I’m always making excuses because I haven’t got enough money.”
“Why on earth didn’t you say something?” Exclaimed Janet.
“Because if I did you wouldn’t listen, you never do.”
Janet was full of mixed emotions. She felt guilty about not giving Hannah more money. Angry, because Hannah felt she couldn’t talk to her mother after all she had done to make her life happy.
“I think you’d better go your room. I shall speak to your father when he gets home from work,” said Janet.
“Huh, fat lot of good that’ll do. He’s useless,” said Hannah contemptuously.
At this point Janet lost it and, Slaaaaap!! She slapped Hannah hard across the face.
Hannah grabbed her cheek and rushed from the kitchen and up the stairs.
Suddenly Janet was filled with remorse. What had she done? She wanted to rush to Hannah and make things all better, but her better judgment prevailed and she kept away.
David entered the kitchen, a worried look on his face.
“Is everything alright mum?”
“Yes, yes, dear. Nothing for you to worry your head about,” said Janet, trying to reassure him.
“What was the shouting about?”
“Just a little disagreement between your sister and me.”
“Oh, alright,” said David, and he wandered off.
Janet set about preparing the evening meal and finally her husband came in through the front door. He hung his coat up and walked into the kitchen.
“Hello, darling, had a good day?” He said, putting his arms on Janet’s shoulders.
She turned round to face him.
“Oh, Frank, it’s been a terrible day.”
“Why, whatever’s the matter?”
“It’s Hannah, she stole money from my purse this morning,” said Janet, almost in tears.
“Are you sure?” Gasped Frank.
“It took some doing, but I finally got her to admit it, and then we had a flaming row and I slapped her across the face. I feel terrible.”
“What on earth did she say to make you do that?” Asked Frank.
“She said something nasty about you. I just completely lost it. I’ve never hit her before.”
“Stealing and making insulting remarks about her parents? This is serious,” said Frank.
“I know, and we must do something about it. We’ve tried so hard to bring her up properly, and now this happens.”
“Well, we’re going to do something drastic. Have you thought about what we can do?”
“I’ve thought about nothing else all day. I had Wendy round this morning; she advocated we borrow her cane and use that.”
“What do you think to that? We both agreed when the kids were born that we wouldn’t smack, and it’s worked up until now.”
“I couldn’t possibly use a cane; it’s too barbaric,” said Janet.
“Shall I do it then?” Suggested Frank.
“No, Frank, I just hate the idea.”
“So what do you suggest? She has to be severely punished for this?”
“I know, it’s just so hard to think about laying a finger on her.”
“Shall I do it then? It’s not something I want to do, but it has to be done; no two ways about it,” offered Frank.
“No, I’ve always seen it as my job to handle the discipline.”
“And a good job you’ve made of it so far, but this is your first real test.”
“I know. I’m just going to have to be brave. I’ve decided to give her the same as a girl got when I was at school when she stole some money,” said Janet.
“What was that then?” Asked Frank.
“A good slippering.” replied Janet.
“Oh, right, if you think that’ll be effective.”
“It was in this case. The girl was hauled up onto the stage after assembly, bent over a chair and given nine really hard whacks by the headmistress. I shall never forget how she screamed with the pain.”
“So you think the same for Hannah?”
“I hate the idea. In fact I dread it, but what else can we do? I know we could withdraw all her privileges and stop her pocket money, but that goes on and on and creates a lot of tension. Slippering her gets it out of the way and hopefully puts her off stealing for good,” explained Janet.
“Well, you’re the disciplinarian. You must do what you think is right.”
“That’s it then, I’m going to be brave and do it,” said Janet, taking a deep breath.
“You have my full support,” added Frank.
Janet went off to finish getting the evening meal ready. During this time, Hannah hid in her room. The meal was served and eaten, mostly in silence, in a frosty atmosphere.
“David, clear the table and start washing up please. Hannah, come with me and your mother to the sitting room, we have something to do,” said Frank.
They all got up and Hannah led the way into the sitting room. Frank and Janet sat in the armchairs either side of the fire.
“Stand here,” said her father, pointing to the floor between the chairs.
“What do you want?” Demanded Hannah.
“We’ll ask the questions, and you know what we want, young lady,” said dad.
“Do I?” Shrugged Hannah defiantly.
“Now you listen to me, you’re in enough trouble already. Don’t makes things worse,” snapped dad angrily and pointing his finger at Hannah.
“Your mum has told me all about today and I’m appalled at your behaviour. All that we’ve done for you, and this is how you repay us. I understand that you’re not happy with what we give you. Well, let me tell you, money doesn’t grow on trees. I have to work hard to earn it and I’m not turning you into a spoilt brat by giving you everything you want, is that clear?” Said dad angrily.
Hannah didn’t answer, but looked at the floor and twisted her body back and forth, hands clasped together in front of her.
“Answer your father,” said Janet.
“Yes, dad,” said Hannah reluctantly.
“Good. Now, for what you’ve done today you are going to be punished. We’ve never laid a finger on you up till now, but that’s going to change. This morning Mrs Johnson offered to lend us her cane,” said dad.
Before dad could go any further, Hannah blurted out: “No, dad, you can’t use that, it hurts.”
“How do you know?” Interjected mum.
“I just do, that’s all,” replied Hannah, but the sudden flush of colour to her cheeks gave the game away.
“You’ve had it at school, haven’t you?” Demanded mum.
“So what if I have? Most girls have,” retorted a still defiant Hannah.
“What for?” Asked dad.
“Being cheeky to Miss Jefferson.”
Both mum and dad sighed and looked at each other.
“How could you, Hannah? We’ve always brought you up to be polite,” said mum.
“You can think yourself lucky your mother has decided that she will punish you,” said dad.
“Yes, I now realize that it’s something I should have done a long time ago. Go and bring me one of your plimsolls,” said mum.
Hannah refused to move.
“Hannah!” Shouted her dad. “Do you want me to send you to fetch the cane?”
“No,” she pouted, and then left the room.
“Well, what do you make of that?” Asked Frank.
“My hand is itching to get hold of that slipper. I wonder how many times she’s had the cane?”
“Who knows? It seems we’ve been living in a dream world with that girl. I dread to think what she’s been doing these past few years. We’ll really have to keep a close watch on her,” said Frank.
“And keep the slipper handy,” added Janet.
Eventually Hannah returned and handed the plimsoll to her mum. Janet stood up and walked round to the side of her chair.
“Stand here,” she said, pointing to the floor next to the right arm of the chair.
Hannah did as instructed.
“Now lean forward and put your hands on the other arm.”
Hannah leaned forward and placed her hands on the arm.
“Now down on your elbows.”
Hannah went down, which left her bottom protruding upwards. Then Janet lifted her skirt and slip, which was now barely covering her bottom.
“Right, young lady, you can think about your behaviour while this is going on.”
Janet got into position and brought the plimsoll down hard across the middle of Hannah’s bottom.
“Ooooowww,” she squealed.
With great determination, Janet delivered whack number two. Again, Hannah let out a scream. All thought of not liking smacking had disappeared from Janet’s mind. She continued aiming each whack right on the middle of Hannah’s bottom, low down enough to make it painful for her to sit down. It only took another two whacks to bring Hannah to tears but Janet was now determined to at least emulate that headmistress all those years ago. Whack followed whack until Frank indicated to Janet that enough was enough. She stood back, almost panting for breath, leaving Hannah a blubbering wreck, still bent over.
“Go to your room,” ordered Janet.
Hannah pushed herself up and ran from the room.
Janet looked at Frank.
“Well, did that do the trick, do you think?” Asked Janet.
“I sincerely hope so. I never thought I would see the day you did anything like that,” said Frank in a voice tinged with admiration.
“Neither did I, and it won’t be the last either if she doesn’t behave.”
“I think I can safely leave the discipline in your hands,” said Frank.
“I’ll give her a few minutes to calm down and then I’ll go and make my peace with her,” said Janet.
© Lisamum 2015