Lori and Josh were huddled together in Kyle’s bedroom, trying to decide if they could put the beer back in Lori’s room without their parents finding out. Kyle was sitting on his desk chair feeling too guilty about everything that had happened that morning to listen to them.
Half an hour ago, Nicole had left to show the social worker out. All three teens had assumed she would immediately come back and ask how they’d created the bed, but that hadn’t happened.
Just as Josh was opening Kyle’s window to put the beer outside, there was a knock on the door.
Lori and Josh shared a defeated shrug. Josh closed the window, while Kyle went to open his door. Stephen was on the other side with a serious frown.
“Kyle, you and I need to talk.”
“Okay.” Kyle stepped back to let him in.
Stephen looked at the bed and said with surprise, “Wow. Nicole told me you guys had done this, but I didn’t realize it would look so real.” He walked up to the bed, and as he flipped the covers up he asked, “What did you guys use to…” He saw the cases of beer, and scowled at Josh. “Beer?”
Josh held his hands up in a placating gesture and said, “It’s not my beer. I had nothing to do with it.”
Stephen turned to glare at his daughter.
“It’s not really
mine either,” Lori said. “I was just holding it for a friend. I was going to give it back to him in a couple of days.”
Stephen flipped the covers back down, closed his eyes for a second and took a couple of deep breaths. The three teens glanced at each other warily. When Stephen opened his eyes, he appeared calm. He pointed a finger at Lori and said, “You’re grounded for an extra two weeks, and I’m confiscating all of it.”
“But Dad, I have to give it back!”
Stephen crossed his arms. “If you’d like to give me the name of the teenager you’re giving it back to, I’d be happy to call their parents and give the beer to them.”
Lori blushed, and shook her head. It was bad enough to lose the beer, getting her friend in trouble for it would be much worse.
“Underage drinking is serious, Lori, especially if you’re the one providing the alcohol. If one of the kids at the party was injured or killed because of drinking, and someone told the police that they got the alcohol from you, the police could hold you responsible.”
Lori swallowed hard and nodded.
“Alright you and Josh go to your rooms and stay there until I come get you for lunch.” Stephen turned his frown to Kyle. “Kyle and I need to have a serious discussion about his poor choices last night.”
Kyle heard Josh’s sharp intake of breath, and looked at him in confusion. He could see the shock on Josh’s face, but had no idea what it meant. Josh backed up a step towards the bedroom door and said, “Sure thing Dad. We’ll be in our rooms.”
Lori raised an eyebrow in confusion when Josh grabbed her hand, and pulled her out into the hall. Josh shut the door behind them.
Curious about Josh’s reaction, Kyle focused his hearing to see if Josh was going to say more. He heard Josh whisper to Lori as they walked away. “Do you think Dad’s really going to do it?”
“Don’t tell me you’re too old to remember what a ‘serious discussion about poor choices’ means.” There was a short pause while Josh waited, and then said impatiently, “That’s Dad’s phrase for ‘you’re in for a spanking’.”
Kyle referenced the word spanking against the information he’d gathered from the encyclopedias he’d read, and then frowned with disbelief. He glanced at Stephen, who was currently watching Kyle intently, as if trying to decide something. Kyle was unable to reconcile the things he knew about Stephen Trager with the image of him hitting either of his kids.
Kyle heard Lori scoff, “Dad hasn’t spanked either of us in years. You were like eight the last time. Kyle’s too old.”
“I was nine, and Kyle may look sixteen, but in a lot of ways he’s more like a five year old. I’m telling you, Lori, I know that look from Dad. Mr. ‘I like to hide girls in my room overnight and lie about it’ is in for it.”
“Kyle,” Stephen said, pulling Kyle’s attention back to him. “When Amanda came to your room last night, why didn’t you come tell us what was going on?”
“I was going to, but she asked me not to.”
“That’s not a good reason to defy us, Kyle. As your parents, Nicole and I expect you to be honest, and within reason, we expect you to follow our instructions. You knew you weren’t supposed to see Amanda without our consent, so when she showed up last night, you should have come to tell us about it.”
Kyle’s stomach lurched unpleasantly, and warmth spread across his face. He had known Stephen and Nicole wouldn’t let Amanda stay, and in retrospect he could see why she probably shouldn’t have stayed, because her mother was much angrier now than she would have been last night.
know it was the wrong choice, didn’t you?”
Reluctantly, Kyle whispered, “Yes.” He had admiration and respect for both Stephen and Nicole, and knowing that he’d gone against their wishes made him feel awful now that they knew what he’d done.
Stephen put a hand on Kyle’s shoulder and gave it a gentle squeeze. “You’re one of my kids now, and that means you need to live by the rules Nicole and I set out for you, even if you don’t like them, or think that they’re fair.”
Stephen sighed. “Do you know what a spanking is Kyle?”
Kyle nodded, and put a hand over his churning stomach. He wasn’t sure why the idea of Stephen hitting his butt upset him so much. He doubted it would hurt. Getting punched by that boy the first day of school hadn’t been particularly painful. He also hadn’t felt much pain when walking through fire to save that girl.
Kyle said, “Lori thinks I’m too old for a spanking.”
“When did Lori say that?” Stephen asked with surprise. He let his hand drop from Kyle’s shoulder.
“Just a few minutes ago in the hall. Josh thought you were going to spank me, but Lori said I was too old.”
Stephen shook his head and said with a slight smile, “Josh is a lot more perceptive than I give him credit for sometimes.” He crossed his arms, and said, “Lori’s wrong, you’re not too old. Nicole and I discussed it, and we both feel that this particular punishment is what you need.”
Stephen got Kyle’s desk chair, and put it in the middle of the room. “Because this is the first time you’ve been blatantly disobedient since you moved in, and we want to give you a strong incentive not to do that again. Your life is dangerous enough without going behind our backs and lying to us.” Stephen put a hand on Kyle’s upper arm and said, “Do I need to explain what’s going to happen?”
Kyle shook his head and muttered, “I’ve got a pretty good idea.”
“Then let’s get it over with.” Stephen sat in the chair, and pulled at Kyle’s arm. “Lay across my lap.”
Kyle did as he was asked, and settled himself as comfortably as possible face down across the older man’s legs. He braced both his hands on the floor, and immediately felt vulnerable in a way that he’d never experienced before. One of Stephen’s hands put light pressure on the middle of his back while the other one rested on the back of his right thigh.
“Before we start, I want you to explain what you did wrong, to make sure you understand exactly why this is happening.”
“I let Amanda stay in my room last night, even though I was grounded. I knew I wasn’t supposed to see her, so I hid it from you and Nicole.”
“That’s right. Nicole and I are very disappointed that you decided to let Amanda stay, but even more disappointed that you tried to hide it from us after the fact.”
Kyle felt a couple of tears slip down his face. Stephen’s hand moved off his leg, and then slapped down hard on his behind.
“Ow!” Kyle exclaimed in shock. That had hurt far more than he’d expected it to. Before he had time to process the first smack, another one landed slightly above the last. “Ow!” he yelped again, unable to form words past his surprise.
Over the next few seconds, Kyle found it impossible to say anything other than ‘ow’ with each smack, as his entire rear end was covered with stinging swats. He wasn’t sure if Stephen was hitting steadily harder as the spanking progressed, or if the pain was just building on itself with each new smack, but the longer it went on, the worse it felt. When swat number fifteen landed, his whole body flinched, and he started squirming. By swat number twenty, his legs seemed to have a mind of their own, and they came up off the floor with little kicks. By the time smack number twenty-four landed, Kyle was yelping loud enough that Josh and Lori could probably hear him all the way upstairs, and with slap number thirty, his stray tears turned into full on crying.
It took a second for Kyle to realize that the thirtieth smack had been the final one. His body slowly sagged with relief over Stephen’s lap, while he tried to stop crying.
He felt Stephen’s hand rubbing circles on his back, and the older man said gently, “Okay, it’s over.”
Kyle took a deep shaky breath, wiped some of the tears off his face, and said, “That really hurt.” The skin on his butt was hot and uncomfortable in a way that made it hard to be still.
“It was supposed to hurt,” Stephen said. “That’s what makes you try and avoid it in the future. What are you going to do if Amanda asks you to do something with her tomorrow?”
Kyle squirmed in shame. “I’ll tell you about it right away, and ask for permission.”
“And what if we say no?”
“Then I won’t do it, and I won’t try to hide anything from you either.”
Stephen patted his back a couple of times and said, “Okay, then you’re forgiven. Ready to get up?”
Kyle nodded emphatically as he pushed himself up and off Stephen’s lap. Once he was upright he wiped his eyes with one hand, and rubbed his bottom with the other.
Stephen stood, and pulled Kyle into a hug. Kyle rested his forehead on Stephen’s chest, and tried to come to terms with what had just happened. They stood that way in silence for a couple of seconds, until there was a soft knock on the bedroom door.
“Come in,” Stephen said as he let go of Kyle.
Nicole peeked around the door, and said with concern, “Everyone okay in here?”
Stephen said, “Yes,” and at the same time Kyle said, “No.”
“I’ll give you two time to talk.” Stephen patted Kyle’s shoulder and left the room.
Kyle took a shaky breath, and tentatively rubbed his behind again. Nicole gave him a sympathetic frown and opened her arms in invitation. “Need a hug?”
He went and leaned into her embrace. She held him tight and said, “You’re going to be okay, just give it a few minutes.”
“It’s not okay,” Kyle’s voice wavered. “Something’s wrong with me.”
Nicole pushed him away far enough to look in his eyes. “What do you mean?”
“It hurt. Stephen’s hand landing on my butt really
hurt, but it shouldn’t have. He wasn’t even hitting as hard as he could have given his size and muscle mass, and when I walked through fire to save that girl, it didn’t hurt at all.”
Nicole smiled gently and said, “I don’t think anything’s wrong with you. I have a theory. I think your pain receptors are connected to your emotions.”
Kyle thought that over for a few seconds.
“After you told us the truth about your past, you and I talked for hours,” Nicole said. “You told me about the fire, but you also told me about holding your hand over a candle flame right after that.”
“It hurt,” he said, realizing the significance of that.
“What were you feeling when you saved that girl from the fire?” Nicole asked.
“Protective. All I could think about was getting her out.”
“Okay, and what were you feeling when you held your hand over the flame?”
“I’m not sure. Curiosity maybe?”
“How about while you were getting spanked?”
He ducked his head and whispered, “Ashamed of myself.”
Nicole pulled him back into a hug and said, “I don’t think your body can physically maintain a high level of protection all the time. It’s got to be something like an adrenaline surge for the rest of us. When you sense immediate danger, your body has a physical response that protects you. But when you’re just curious or when you’re ashamed, your body doesn’t go into that same protection mode.”
“But why wouldn’t that kick in once it started to hurt?”
“Maybe because you didn’t sense any danger, even when it hurt. You told me yourself that you knew Stephen wasn’t hitting as hard as he could, and you also knew that it was a temporary pain meant to teach you something, not meant to damage you. My guess is that if someone tried to torture you, you wouldn’t find it painful, even if they did things that should cause a lot more pain than a few slaps to your rear end.”
With a pout he said, “You thought a spanking would hurt me, and you still agreed that it was the right thing to do?”
“I wasn’t sure it would hurt you, but I thought it would be an effective punishment either way because of the emotional factor.”
She let him go so she could look him in the eye again and tried to explain.
“When the children were little, Stephen and I didn’t agree on spanking as a punishment. He thought it was a good last resort punishment when other things didn’t work, but I considered it to be outdated and even abusive. Unlike me, Stephen got spanked when he was a child, and he’s convinced that it made him a better person. Eventually it came down to Stephen asking me if I trusted him as a parent. I had to admit that I did, so I went along with it, and over time I’ve changed my mind about spanking in general. I don’t consider it bad parenting as long as it’s used sparingly when other punishments haven’t worked.”
“Today, when I told Stephen what you’d done, his first reaction was to ground you for longer, but then we talked about your physical age verses your level of experience, and he wondered if spanking would be a better choice. Given the fact that you disobeyed us when you were already grounded, and given the fact that you’re officially one of our children now, we decided spanking would be a more fitting punishment. A little pain today could prevent you from doing something that would cause you a lot of serious problems later on down the road.”
Kyle frowned while contemplating all of that information. A few seconds later, he looked Nicole in the eye and said, “I didn’t like it, but you’re right, it was effective. I won’t do anything like that again. I promise.”
“It’s very mature of you to admit that, and hopefully it also helped you not to feel so guilty.”
He raised an eyebrow, wondering how she knew he’d been feeling guilty.
She smiled. “I’m your mom now, Kyle. I can tell when one of my kids feels guilty about something, but hopefully now you can let that go.”
Kyle realized she was right. He didn’t feel nearly as guilty about letting Amanda stay as he had before the spanking.
“I think it’s time to get the day back on track, don’t you? Why don’t you come help me make lunch?”
Kyle nodded, and followed her as she went to the kitchen. Getting the day back to some kind of normal sounded like a perfect idea to him.
Kyle XY pictures courtesy of Essential Matt Dallas