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  • Writer's pictureSweet Tea

My First Memory Is the Moment I Realized I Was a Spanko

When I say I’m a “lifelong spanko,” what I mean is that the thought of spanking has never not fascinated, excited, and frightened me. For as long as I can remember, any mention of the act—and discipline more generally—has made my soft bits tingle and sent butterflies whirling through my belly. A spanking. Nothing could be more scandalous in my mind, and my very first memory centers on the moment I realized my feelings about it were likely abnormal. Something about me was different, and whatever it was had everything to do with that thing.

I was at preschool that day, meaning I must have been no younger than two but no older than four. My tiny classmates and I sat in a circle on the floor as we looked up at our school’s only male teacher, listening intently while he read us a classic Mother Goose nursery rhyme.

There was an old woman who lived in a shoe.

She had so many children, she didn’t know what to do.

She gave them all broth without any bread,

Then she whipped them all soundly and sent them to bed.

This was 35 years ago in 1980s America and I remember it like it was yesterday. The page he read from looked something like this:

The Boomers sure knew how to make child abuse look hunky-dory.

My stomach tightened like a fist and my eyes went wide. I distinctly remember thinking, “The adults are talking about spanking AGAIN. What is this bizarre poem even talking about? WHY?!”

Like, first off, beg your pardon, but who the fuck lives in a shoe? Are the people really small or is the shoe really big? Does it stink like smelly feet inside? Why not a house or an apartment, perhaps? No one I’d ever met had lived in any sort of footwear.

Another thought was, “Lady. Why so many goddamn kids?” I’d known families with two, three, four, maybe five children at most, but none suffered from this fictional woman’s apparent state of bewilderment. How had all these kids come to be? Where was their deadbeat father, exactly? Why no bread, only broth? My young mind was confused, unable to comprehend the workings of things like birth control and poverty.

But what mattered above all else, of course, was that she had whipped them for no apparent reason. I’d never been whipped, but somehow knew precisely what it meant. A whipping was like a spanking, only scarier. Why would this mean old lady do that horrible thing to those children before bedtime? (ALL of them!) Did it really make sense? They didn’t choose to live there in her shitty shoe house, after all, did they? I’m sure they were just as unhappy with the state of things as she was. Her choice to whip seemed rather random and, like all non-consensual spankings, unspeakably wrong and unfair.

In that shocked moment of contemplation, I glanced around the room at my classmates. Not a single one of them seemed the slightest bit perturbed. They listened casually as if our teacher had been reading about cows or cars or pudding. No sideways glances or wide eyes. Some were even nodding off, ready for nap time. Zero acknowledgement of the fact that what we’d all just heard was utterly insane. You’d think at least one would have stood up to proclaim, “Excuse me, SIR. What on EARTH do you mean she whipped them and why?! Who would do such a thing?!?!”


Not a sound.

No anxiousness, embarrassment, or surprise on their part, from what I could tell.

No one else thought it was a big deal.

I felt odd and alone and pondered that event for years to come while collecting further evidence that I, indeed, was the strange one. Spanking was normal to other people. It was a day-to-day occurrence most of them never batted an eye over rather than a source of earth-tilting emotional upheaval. The strictness, admonishment, sobbing, and bare butts involved apparently mattered little to them. (Those things mattered quite a lot to me.)

Many artists have drawn illustrations over the years to depict the strange scene described in that poem. In some versions, the old lady spanks with her hand while in others, she wields a long, scary birch. I will share a few more to highlight the ridiculousness of all this. How could I grow up without this insanity burned into my brain?

Did she kidnap these incorrigible shoe children? Where did they all come from?!

Holy shit, this witch even made a spanking machine. Eat -> spank -> sleep with efficiency.

Maybe she was just bored, huh? "Nothing to do but spank in a shoe."

Man. We adults teach kids some downright twisted shit, no? It’s bizarre that we portray hitting them as some whimsical endeavor when it causes so much trauma. Hey, teacher (and shoe lady), leave them kids alone!

For spankos, memories like the one I’ve described here serve as the seeds that go on to blossom into our full-blown fetish. They’re the shocking, foundational, larger-than-life moments that loom at the forefront of our subconscious mind throughout the course of our lives, marinating. When I’m 80, I’ll have forgotten much, but my spank-related memories will likely still be salient. Ask any other spanko and I’d wager they’d say the same.



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