Spare the Rod

The studio audience laughed loudly and often as the three handsome, young men regaled them with naughty tales from their youth. Isaac, Taylor and Zac Hanson, the famous band of musical brothers, all now well into their twenties and very accomplished musicians, songwriters, record producers and music label moguls, were appearing as guests on the wildly popular new day-time talk show, Spare the Rod. The program’s focus was on the trials and tribulations of raising kids in today’s stressful times, with an obvious slant towards a return to the good old-fashioned values of yesteryear. Having been raised strictly themselves, and then chosen to apply those same ideals now with their own children, the Hanson boys had plenty of experience to bring to the discussion.

The brothers had recently published a book about themselves. In it they’d recounted many telling episodes from their childhoods and careers – ones in particular that they felt had helped to make them who they were today. The book had revealed the story of three remarkably close siblings whose caring, supportive parents not only took great pains to see to it that their brood was raised with unconditional love, but with strong, exacting guidance as well. It had caught the eye of the show’s producer who had a gut feeling there was more to be told, and that their audience would love to hear it.

The show’s hosts, Jamie and Allie, had been challenging their guests to delve further into stories from their pasts. At first all three had been a bit reluctant, and even endearingly embarrassed, to divulge the details of certain memories, but that, of course, had only encouraged the audience to egg them on even more, and so they soon rose to the occasion. It was becoming quite apparent to the trio, however, that the audience was primarily curious to know whether they had gotten spanked as children, and if so, for what, how badly, how often, and more. And had they felt they deserved it and learned from it? Also, would they spank their own kids now?

After much goading, Zac was the first to cave in. With blushing cheeks he told of a time during their first heady year of fame when all three had gotten caught rollerblading in the hallway of their hotel. The angry manager had turned them over to their father who was more than irate, to put it mildly, as he had already forbidden that particular pastime several months back when they’d nearly gotten thrown out of another hotel for the same thing. Needless to say, all three had paid a painful price – bare bottomed spankings over their father’s knee, one after the other, right in front of the hotel manager. The three groaned at the memory.

Isaac picked up from there, recounting another similar hotel incident that had happened several months later. The boys had been grounded to their room for misbehaving and had quickly grown bored and hyper. Zac had discovered some balloons in a suitcase and soon they’d filled them with water and were gleefully playing a wild game of catch. They’d quickly worn out that amusement, however, and then gotten the bright idea of dropping the water bombs off their balcony into the paths of unsuspecting passersby below. They’d thought it was great fun too, until they’d actually hit some lady on the head, soaking her from head to toe, and she’d pitched a fit. She’d come racing into the lobby, found the manager, and all hell had broken loose. Their parents were notified and the three boys soundly chastised. They’d been ordered to apologize, then received a scorching lecture followed by spankings for the record book, and finally, been put in the corner for what seemed like forever. And all this in front of the dripping lady and the hotel manager. They’d been 11, 14 and 16 at the time.

The mention of how old they were had lead right into a discussion about the age-appropriateness of spanking. Grudgingly, the three young men admitted that their parents had been firm believers in the "never-too-old" approach and each had in fact been spanked as old as 19, a detail which elicited a rather amazed gasp from the audience. All three brothers’ cheeks colored. Taylor glanced nervously at both his siblings. He definitely did not want to discuss one particular spanking he’d received at that age. Ike and Zac caught his meaning and gave their assurance of secrecy through a subtle nod of their heads. Tay breathed a sigh of relief.

After some coaxing, Ike, however, reluctantly related the story of his very last spanking ever. It had been for deliberately disobeying a direct order not to go to a certain unsavory nightclub in their hometown – something which was actually against the law as well, since he was underage. Sadly, unbeknownst to him, a friend of their parents had seen him there and turned him in to his folks. So, when he’d gotten home later that night he’d been sorely disappointed to discover that his story of having been "out" with some friends was no longer holding water, and that, in fact, he was now not only in trouble for disobeying, but for breaking the law and for lying as well. His furious father had taken his pants and underwear down, bent him over the back of the couch, and spanked him but good, first with his hand and then with his belt. Ike shifted uncomfortably in his seat as he vicariously re-experienced that painful, humiliating event.

He’d had his mouth washed out as well, he told the rapt audience, and had then been made to stand in the corner to "think about his behavior and how he would make better choices in the future!" - a common edict from their parents. He’d also been grounded for a month.

“I made a pact with myself right then and there never to get another spanking for the rest of my life. And so far," he chuckled, "it has held true."

The audience was being given an amazingly revealing look into the lives and upbringing of these still young superstars and was more than surprised to have their beliefs in old fashioned discipline so validated. Spanking had obviously been very good for these boys. They were extremely well-mannered, grounded, highly accomplished, successful adults now - something any parent would be more than proud of.

Given Ike’s description of the additional post-spanking punishments he’d received, the conversation naturally turned to other types of discipline their parents had used.

"I got my mouth washed out so many times," Tay lamented. "More times than I care to remember. And I hated it soooo bad. Nearly as much as a spanking." The audience murmured sympathetically.

"What sort of things did you do to warrant that?" Jamie asked.

"Swearing!" Taylor stated emphatically. "I’ve always had a potty mouth, and a severe lack of control over it too. I constantly screwed up that way. My folks didn’t abide by it at all. It sucked."

"We also got it for lying and back-talking and stuff," Zac added.

"Smoking and drinking too," Tay added with a noticeable shudder. It was quite apparent that he’d endured that particular indignation for those offenses more than once. Ike winced subtly as well.

"Yeah, basically, if it was the sort of misbehavior that involved our mouths, we got them soaped," Ike added. "That was the rule."

"And it was pretty much always in addition to a spanking first too," Zac moaned. "That was a given. If you disobeyed in our house you got a spanking first. It was pretty simple. Then, depending on what you’d done wrong, you might also get extra stuff too - mouth soaped, grounded, corner time." He grimaced. "We got that one a lot!"

"Yeah, pretty much every single time we got spanked, unless there just wasn’t enough time for it for some reason," Tay said.

"Not enough time? Like when? Give us an example," Allie coaxed, her smile hard to resist, as she well knew.

Taylor groaned. He could see where this was going. It was a slippery slope and they’d already lost their footing and were tumbling downhill fast at this point. He took a deep breath and forged on.

"Well, we traveled a lot so it wasn’t uncommon to get spanked in a bathroom at an airport or restaurant or something – and we couldn’t really do corner time there. Thank god. And, for instance, one time I swore on stage during a concert, after I’d already been warned about doing that several times before. I didn’t realize my dad was standing right offstage just a few feet from me. He immediately ordered me to come off. I couldn’t believe it. I was stunned. I’m still shocked to this day that he did that. He usually never interfered with our work like that. But I guess he’d just had it with me. And he actually gave me a spanking right there in the wings! Pants down, over his knee, and everything. Oh man! And then I had to go right back onstage and sing again." Tay shook his head in disbelief. "It was really awful. I could only pray no one had seen anything. Or guessed anything. I’m sure I looked a mess at that point. Thank god Ike took over, changing the set list so he could take the lead for a bit." Taylor threw his older brother a grateful glance and the audience ahhhed in appreciation.

"What are brothers for?" Ike laughed. "Tay would have done the same for me. Zac too. And vice versa. We were always in this together."

"Sounds like it!" Allie smiled. "One for all and all for one, eh?"

"Something like that," Zac added. "We were there for each other as much as possible. Life was exciting and rewarding for sure, but it was also pretty scary, challenging and exhausting at times. We needed each other badly. We were the only ones who really understood what each other was going through. Fame and success can be a tricky thing, especially considering how young we were." Tay and Ike nodded their agreement.

"C’mon now," Jamie goaded. "Didn’t you ever fight? Didn’t you ever get mad at each other? Didn’t you ever get each other in trouble - on purpose, for revenge or something? Or just for the fun of it? C’mon, dish a little dirt here. You can’t always have been such perfect, loving, ‘all for one’ brothers. No one’s like that!" The audience laughed loudly, applauding to show their support of the questions.

"Well, we wouldn't be normal if we didn't fight,” Zac said, answering the question that had been asked of them so many times in their careers. The guys were always amazed at how interested everyone else seemed to be in whether they fought a lot. “But it didn't happen often. When it did though, it was one of those knock-down-drag-out-break-things sorts of fights. And if our folks ever found out about it we definitely got spanked for it. There was no hitting of each other allowed ever! But I don't think we ever purposely tried to get each other in trouble or anything. Or tattled on each other either. It wasn't our style." He said this so matter-of-factly that there really was little room to question it. Tay and Ike nodded like it was the most obvious fact. The audience's respect seemed to rise noticeably

"Okay, so did you guys always feel you deserved what you got then? Did you ever think your parents were being unreasonable or unfair, or too harsh or strict at all?" Jamie pushed on, determined to find some crack in these guys. "Sounds like they didn’t give an inch."

Ike cleared his throat preparing to take the bait. His duty as eldest sometimes still weighed upon him at times like this. "I think we would all completely agree that we never once got spanked or punished unfairly," he stated unequivocally. Once again, to the audience’s amazement, the two other brothers nodded in unison. "Our folks had clear, reasonable rules of which we were made more than well aware," Ike continued, shaking his head with a smile. He knew they’d lost this game and he could do little more than accept it at this point. "We might not have liked it but we always knew we deserved it. We knew what would happen if we disobeyed and it always did. No surprises. No exceptions. Our parents were nothing if not consistent. If we hadn’t been told the consequences of some behavior beforehand, we got one free chance, but if we’d already been warned, our butts were toast. It was pretty simple really."

"So, how many spankings do you think you each got in your lives?" Jamie pressed. "Sounds like it must have been a lot." The three boys sighed with defeat, glancing at each other for strength and solidarity. The audience chuckled at their obvious discomfort.

"Tay, you go first," Zac teased. "Since you win this one we won’t sound so bad after you tell them your number." He winked at Taylor conspiratorially but luckily Tay had fully conceded the situation now and was just intending to go with the flow, taking it all with a sense of humor. He stuck his tongue out at his younger brother just for the satisfaction of it though and the audience burst into laughter. Victorious, Tay grinned broadly back at his sibling. Then he took a deep breath to build conviction and let out a loud, resigned sigh.

"Okay," he began. "In for a penny, in for a pound, right? Here goes. I got the most spankings by far because I guess I had a sort of guilty conscience or something. Or maybe just a death wish," he chuckled. "I was a bit of a closet rebel too. And sometimes I was just plain stupid, ‘cause even when I didn’t get caught for something, I had a bad tendency to then push it until I did, sometimes even for some other reason altogether. I just couldn’t stand the guilt or pressure I guess. So anyway, I definitely got the most spankings of the three of us."

He paused to give everyone a chance to digest what he’d said so far. He knew the next piece of information he was about to reveal would be surprising to say the least. "I tried to figure it out once – how many I’d gotten,” he said. “And the best I could figure was it was over a hundred." The audience gasped. He shrugged. "It’s hard to count really because sometimes we’d get more than one spanking at a time if we’d done more than one thing wrong," he continued. "So, do those count as one, or more? But let’s just say it was a lot!" Tay hoped that would be good enough to satisfy this voracious crowd but he had his doubts. There was an uncomfortable silence after he stopped talking. Who was going to fill it, he wondered? Please somebody jump in here, he prayed silently.

"Over a hundred!!!" Jamie burst out. Tay shrunk, but nodded with a frown.

"Well, it was over the course of a dozen or so years," he explained quickly. "And like I said, we often got more than one spanking at a time so they could add up fast. For instance, once I got four spankings at once. Does that count as one or four? It’s hard to figure."

"What do you mean ‘four at once’?" Jamie asked, incredulous. "How does that work?"

Taylor threw up his hands. "Okay," he said, "I’m gonna tell you all about one of the worst spankings I ever got. It was when I was fifteen and my mother caught me in our bedroom with a girl." The audience gasped again. Taylor closed his eyes and tried to garner strength from his waning reserves. "Yep," he nodded, "I got spanked plenty for girl trouble. All the worst ones I ever got were for that!" His brothers bobbed their heads in agreement. "I have a major weakness for the fairer sex." Tay smiled despite himself, and suddenly, much to his surprise, the audience burst into applause. He laughed loudly and seemed to be rejuvenated some by the appreciative response.

"Anyway, we had strict rules about that - no girls in the house when our parents were out, and no girls in our bedroom ever! No matter what! Well, I’d worked out this whole plan to invite this one girl I liked over when I thought it was safe. Stupid me. Our family was out for the day and we were supposedly practicing – which was the excuse we’d used to get out of going on the family outing with them to begin with. I was grounded for something else already too so I really was not supposed to be having anyone over, let alone a girl.

"Well, she and I were in my bedroom - not exactly fully dressed, shall we say - when Mom burst in on us. I couldn’t believe it. I think my heart literally stopped for a few seconds. I knew I was a dead man. She’d come home early because our little sister wasn’t feeling well and she was just bringing in some folded laundry assuming we were in the basement studio rehearsing. But I hadn’t heard a thing. I’d been ‘otherwise engaged.’

"Anyway, she was not happy AT ALL, let me tell you. She gave me a look that could kill, then made me go right to her bedroom and get her hairbrush. I wanted to crawl into a hole and never come out. When I got back with it she gave me the worst spanking I’d ever gotten up till then – bare and over her knee, right in front of my girlfriend. I thought I’d die. But it wasn’t over yet. Not by a long shot. When Dad got home later that night, that was when the shi… er … crap really hit the fan. He gave me a lecture that left my ears burning, then he put me over his knee and spanked me four more times in a row without stopping – first with his hand, then with this awful paddle thing my mom had bought, then with the hairbrush again, and finally with his belt. It was for so many things in the end – for lying and scheming and disobeying on so many, many levels, and especially for stepping way, waaay over the line with a girl. Don’t get me wrong – we didn’t go all the way or anything - but we still went way too far in their book. And I knew that. And they knew that." Tay paused for a moment to regroup his thoughts. This interview had certainly taken a turn none of them had quite expected. "So …," he continued, "did I get five spankings that day, or two? I was never sure. Felt like five. Hurt more like fifty actually."

A stunned silence followed. Tay shrugged grimly. They’d asked for it, he’d given it to them. Luckily Zac came to the rescue.
"See. I told you," he joked. "Tay always took the cake. He could turn a simple spanking into an endurance test like you couldn’t believe. I myself probably got about a quarter fewer than he did. Not because I was better behaved though – not by a long shot. In fact, I was always the worst trouble maker of the bunch. But because I didn’t get caught as often – nor did I have some secret desire or need to. I could live easily with the guilt. Tay’s a much better man than I, I’ll just say that right now."

"That’s not true," Tay blurted out, surprised but more than honored by Zac’s words. "I’m not better than you, Zac. You’re probably the wisest, bravest, most honest, honorable guy I’ll ever know. I have always admired you so much for that." There was a moment of silence when Tay finished speaking, then a spontaneous burst of applause. Zac smiled shyly and said, "Thanks Tay."

"C’mon now. Dish some real dirt here," Jamie cried. "Didn’t you ever get mad about all this? Rebel against all the rules and spankings? Any of you?"

"Rebel?" Ike asked. "Sure. We didn't take it lightly. We got mad. We fought it. We had tons of angry arguments with our folks about it. We begged them so many times not to spank us. To use some other punishment instead. But the sad fact was that our very obvious hate of spankings made our parents that much clearer that they were exactly the perfect punishment for us. And they always said, *here all three boys chimed in chorus* 'If you don't want to get spanked, then behave yourself.'" The audience laughed loudly. It was more than obvious that these boys had heard that particular phrase many, many times.

"Okay. Did you ever actually ever get away with anything then? NOT get spanked because they never knew?” Allie asked. “Or maybe, was there ever anything you inadvertently revealed in an interview or something like that, that your parents didn't know anything about, that then got you in trouble?" The boys sat quietly for a moment pondering the questions.

"One time on this radio interview in Scotland I said the “f” word and the DJ actually threatened to 'put me over his knee,' right on the air!" Zac said. "All I could do was pray that my dad hadn't been listening, but sadly he had. I got spanked right there in the radio station as soon as we were off the air. It was awful. At least Dad had the decency to take me into a private room, and Tay and Ike covered for me as best they could too. But still …." Zac shook his head sadly at the memory. “Thank god we were singing that night or I would have gotten a mouth washing too.”

Ike piped in next. "Another time Tay told this story on a radio show about how he and I snuck into a party at the Sundance Film Festival." Tay slunk down in his seat and covered his face with his hands, shaking his head at the mention of that episode. "Zac didn’t go ‘cause he was too young and we weren't supposed to be at this particular party either because we were underage in that state,” Ike continued. “Then Tay had to go and stupidly mention that we'd been drinking too.” He turned and gave Tay a teasing dirty look. Tay cringed apologetically. “Well, Tay goes on to say how he had to pee really badly but he couldn't go downstairs to the bathrooms since there were bouncers hanging around there, so he ended up climbing out a window onto the roof to take care of business. Oh man. All I could think was ‘wait until Mom hears all that’. And, of course, when we got home Mom did a major number on our butts, that's for sure." Tay's cheeks looked like two candied apples as he squirmed uneasily at the memory. That had been a particularly painful spanking.

"Yikes, bet you wished you’d kept that little story a secret, huh?” Allie said to Tay, who groaned and nodded. “I read a quote from you once too though, Ike," she continued. "You were asked if you'd ever been to a strip club in Vegas despite your young ages at the time, and you said something like, 'that's one of the cool things about being in a band. There's always ways to make stuff like that happen.' Any repercussions from that one?"

Ike’s eyes grew wide with surprise. It was like she’d been reading his mind. He’d been thinking of that very incident but had had no intention of bringing it up as it had been more than unpleasant, to say the least. He glanced worriedly at Tay who frowned and shook his head sadly, but then shrugged and launched into the story.

“Ike and I actually thought we’d gotten away with that one. Lucky for Zac he hadn’t gone with us that time either. Then Ike let it slip in that interview a few weeks later.” He threw Ike a payback glare. Ike grinned sheepishly. “Still, Mom and Dad didn’t read every single thing that was written about us so we just hoped they’d never see it. Well, a family friend who lived in the town where the interview was published, cut it out and sent it to our folks, not realizing how incriminating it was. So this one day, months later, Ike and Zac and I come home from a meeting, not suspecting anything, and find our folks standing in the kitchen holding that clipping, waiting for us. Ike and I were confused at first. We didn’t know what we could possibly be in trouble for. Then Dad showed us the article and said, in this voice that could stop a speeding train, ‘I think you two have some explaining to do!’, and we knew we were dead men. Let’s just say that we didn’t sit comfortably for a long while after that one. Mom turned us over her knee and put her hairbrush to good use first, then Dad took a paddle to us. It wasn’t pretty. We definitely learned a hard lesson that day.”

“Oh man, you guys,” Allie said, shaking her head in amazement. “You really got it bad, didn’t you? Sounds like your folks were more than strict. And didn’t give you any breaks or cut you any slack at all. Didn’t you ever resent it? Even a little? Do you think it really was a good thing in the end? That it taught you to be better people? I think I would have mainly learned just to be more careful not to get caught.”

“Well, we did learn that one too, for sure,” Tay said. “Sometimes you just wanted to get away with stuff. But it was unbelievable how our folks seemed to have a sixth sense about us. We’d think we’d done everything possible to ensure they’d never find out, but they still would. It was mind boggling sometimes. So we learned it usually wasn’t worth it in the end. And we all knew deep down that our folks only had our best interests in mind anyway. They didn’t have any rules we didn’t believe in ourselves, and they never punished us unnecessarily. They took their job - their God-given responsibility, they would say - as parents very seriously. And we were always totally clear they were doing it because they loved us. That was never in question. We sure wished they would have been more flexible and lenient at times though.”

“And more discreet too,” Zac added. “They’d spank us just about anywhere and didn’t really care that much who might be watching either, and that really sucked. I know a few times fans saw and heard way more than we would ever have liked. Not full out spankings, but scoldings and warnings, and smacks on the butt, and stuff like that, for sure. It was so embarrassing.” There was a muttering of sympathy from the audience.

”Okay now, let’s see,” Jamie said, shifting gears. He reached over and picked up a stack of papers on the table in front of him and waved them in the air. “When we announced that you guys were going to be on our show we got flooded with letters and emails like you can’t believe. Thousands literally. From all over the world too. And many had questions they wanted to ask you guys. A lot of those are the ones we’ve already asked. But we have some callers on the line now too who have more questions for you. Let’s find out what else people want to know. Hello? Who am I talking to?“

“Um, hi. This is Nicki from Oklahoma. Hi guys. Nice to talk to you. Um, I’ve been watching the show and was wondering, what was the very worst thing each of you ever got caught for? And what did your parents do to you?”

All three boys groaned. And cringed. Ike looked around, then realizing no one else was going to take the bait, accepted the first round, mainly to get it over with sooner. “I think that last spanking I got at age nineteen that I mentioned earlier was for about the worst thing I ever did. And that spanking was really terrible. Like I said, I’ve never gotten another one again – so far!” The audience chuckled.

Everyone turned and looked at Tay next. He sat there quietly for a second, letting his mind conjure up images of that one awful spanking he’d gotten at nineteen too – it had certainly been for the worst thing that he’d ever done by far. Without a doubt. He shook his head though. “I think I’m gonna take the fifth on this one,” he sighed. ”I don’t really think everyone needs to hear that story. Zac? How ‘bout you?” he asked, turning to his brother, a pleading look on his face.

Zac shrugged and plunged into his tale. “Well, I guess I’d have to say it was when I was sixteen. We had finally talked our folks into letting us do some of our traveling by ourselves for the first time ever and so we were in LA alone, recording our second studio album and having a good ole time in the process. I’d just learned how to drive too, and bought my first car. And I was also experimenting with stuff – like alcohol especially – and was indulging frequently now that our folks weren’t around to stop me. It got a bit out of hand though. More than that really. I kind of lost control. Even Ike and Tay were worried. And then one night I got picked up for speeding and drunk-driving. I got hauled to jail and put in a holding cell while they notified Tay and Ike. And then the cops found out I was only sixteen and that my folks weren’t around, so they called them in Tulsa. Oh man. My dad was on the next flight out there and when he got there I was raked over the coals like you can’t believe. He didn’t use his belt on any of us very often – I think I’d only gotten spanked with it a couple times before – but man, he wore me out with that thing that time. Scared me straight, that’s for sure. I don’t drink at all now.”

The audience sat in stunned silence for a moment, taken aback by Zac’s frank telling of such a powerful story. Finally Jamie broke the spell. “Okay Nicki. I think you got your answer then, eh?” he said and there was an uncomfortable titter from the group as he disconnected the caller.

The next call was from Katja in Holland. “So Ike,” she said, with a nervous giggle. ”I read a quote you made once about smoking. You said, ‘I have my vices like everybody else. I’ve been smoking Cuban cigars since I was 16.’ What did your folks have to say about that one? Did they ever find out?”

Ike frowned, shaking his head in disbelief at the amount of information fans knew about them. He was a private guy and had never really gotten comfortable with his fame. “Yep, they found out,” he said. ”Unlike Zac, Tay and I both like a nice drink, and a nice smoke as well. And we’ve both also had our butts busted but good several times for that. In this case though, spankings didn’t seem to work too well for us ‘cause we never did give up those pleasures, and at one point our folks had to just let it be. They still don’t like it though, and we’ll get a blistering tongue-lashing even now if we do it around them.”

“Okay, next caller,” Jamie continued. It was Robbie from Houston, TX. He asked a question that a lot of people had been really wondering about. He wanted to know if they had kids of their own now, and if so, did they spank them?

“Great question,” Allie said. “So boys, tell us about your kids and whether you intend to do as your folks did to you.”

All three nodded in unison as Ike said, “Yes! We’ve talked about this a lot amongst ourselves and we definitely intend to spank ours. It did us a world of good for sure, there’s no doubt in any of our minds, so we feel it’s the right thing for our kids too. But Tay’s the only one who’s actually done it so far though. I don’t envy him either. Zac’s and my kids are still too young, thank god.”

Taylor nodded in agreement, then offered some more details. He told the audience that he had three children now, ages 2, 5 and 7; that Zac had one who was two years old, and one more on the way; and that Isaac, although the eldest, had married last and so had the youngest child at six-months old. Tay explained that their parents hadn’t spanked any of them until they were at least six though, because they didn’t believe you could be held responsible for understanding the full ramifications of your actions until then. And the three of them, as parents themselves now, felt the same way.

“I’ve spanked my eldest boy, Ezra, a couple times now,” Tay said. “I have newfound respect for my parents from doing it too. It’s got to be about the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do. I hate it. Almost as much as I hated getting them myself. Just like my folks always told us was the case but we never believed them.” He chuckled and the audience laughed with him. “But I want him to have what I had – we had. Structure and boundaries with clear cut rules and count-on-able consequences. It was a wonderful, safe environment in which to grow up. It gave us limits but not constriction. Inside that world we felt secure and supported to be able achieve all our dreams. We were freed up to be creative and powerful while being guided to stay on a positive path towards success. That’s what I want for my kids too. And he’s a wild one, let me tell you. He pushes all my buttons. He’s always testing me, trying to discover what he can and can’t do. It’s hard to be strong, and consistent, but I’ve had to learn that if I give an inch, he’ll take a mile, and no one’s actually better off then. But man, oh man, the first time I put him over my knee I was shaking like a leaf. Brought back so many memories.” Taylor shuddered as if he himself was about to be spanked. The audience murmured compassionately.

“Okay, another caller,” Allie said. “This one’s from down-under. You guys have a huge following in Australia. Her name is Melissa. Hi Melissa!”

“Hi guys. I have a question for Taylor. So Taylor, given how tough your parents were, what did they do when they found out you had gotten your girlfriend pregnant?”

A sudden powerful hush fell over the crowd. The question was obviously laden with significance and controversy. Taylor looked gray and somewhat shell-shocked. There it was. The one thing he’d been avoiding this whole show. The one question he didn’t want to answer. The one episode in his life he tried never to think about. Anyone who’d read their book knew the story of Taylor’s “shotgun” marriage at age nineteen, and the subsequent birth of his son, Ezra, too few months later, but it had been glossed over and given a rosy shine so as not to reveal the real pain of it. And the joy he felt in his marriage and his first born now totally effaced that awful time, but nevertheless, that day – that time - had been about as bad as he could ever imagine.

The room was dead silent and the clock was ticking. Taylor swallowed hard, chewing his lips. Then, in a quiet, sad voice he said, “I didn’t get spanked for that. What I got that time could not have been called a spanking. It was something else altogether. It’s the only time my dad really lost it with me. Any of us. And I mean lost it. I will never forget the look on his face. Hard as I try. He pulled me to standing by my arm, slapped me hard across the face – something he rarely did - dragged me down the hall to our bedroom and threw me face down on my bed. Then he stripped me practically bare and belt-whipped me raw. He’d always only just spanked our butts - even when he used his belt - but that time I had stripes from my ribs to my knees. And always after a spanking we got hugs and kisses and forgiveness. But that time, when he was finished with me, he threw the belt on the bed and just walked out and left me there. And we didn’t speak again for days.” Taylor paused trying to calm himself and shake off the intensity of the memory. “We all worked through it though, and came out the other side in the end,” he continued, trying to refocus the energy, “but it was the worst time of my life. Maybe all our lives.” He paused again. “But I am so thankful now because I have my beautiful wife and my amazing son,” he stated proudly. “In retrospect, I wouldn’t change a thing. And that’s all I’ll say about that.”

No one moved. All you could hear were a few coughs and some sniffling. Time seemed to stop for a moment. Then, almost like they’d read each other’s minds, Ike and Zac both simultaneously reached over and gathered Tay in a hug. The wounds from that period obviously ran deep for them still. They’d weathered some hard times in their lives, and come through with shining colors all the same. Several people in the audience started sobbing. Even Allie was wiping her eyes.

Jamie cleared his throat. “Okay then,” he said, trying to lighten the mood. The boys pulled apart and smiled softly. “We’re almost out of time but I think we have one more caller, and this one might surprise you all!” He smirked and grinned at the three unsuspecting guests. They looked at each other questioningly.

“Hello!” Jamie cried.

“Hello there!” the voice said and all three boys started laughing, big grins on their faces.

“Who am I talking to?” Jamie asked, clearly well aware of who it was and enjoying his little secret immensely.

“This is Diana Hanson,” the caller said, and the audience exploded into applause.

“Hi boys,” she said.

“Hi Mom,” they replied in unison. They were more than surprised to hear her voice. In all the years they’d been in the public eye, their mother had never once been officially interviewed, photographed or filmed talking about them. She’d always stayed way behind the scenes. The brothers looked at each other in confusion, and then simultaneously seemed to realize that this could be embarrassing to say the least. Had they maybe said anything that could warrant a scolding or lecture and she’d called to deliver it? What if she started discussing spanking them? Oh man. They suddenly looked quite nervous – and young. Like little boys about to be punished.

“I felt I had to call and put in my own two cents worth,” she began, not helping the anxiety level of her three sons at all. “And I’m speaking for their father as well. Yes, it’s true, these boys had their bottoms spanked plenty. My husband and I are firm believers as you all have heard. But that was our God-given duty – no more, no less. As Taylor said, their father and I take our responsibility very seriously – to guide them along the path to achieving their full potential as artists, as people, as humans. But spanking wasn’t what our lives were about. That was nothing but a small footnote. We spent our days having fun, learning, playing, talking and enjoying each other’s company. We still do. For us, these boys – all our children – are a gift from God, to be cherished, honored, respected and loved. And there is not another mother on this earth who is more proud of her children than I am of these three boys. They are amazing human beings – they came into this world that way, and they will go out that way as well. I have no doubt. They have done nothing but make me proud of them from day one. And I take no credit for that. They did it themselves. They are gifted, talented, fine men. We consider it nothing less than an honor and a privilege to have been given the opportunity to know and parent them. And we love them more than words can possible describe. That’s all I wanted to say.”

There was a moment of almost reverential quiet, then the entire studio audience erupted into wild applause and cheering, one-by-one each person rising to their feet for a thunderous standing ovation. As the credits began to roll, Isaac, Taylor and Zac Hanson, tears brimming in their eyes, sat there beaming with pride.