I don’t know my dad. My mum’s always brought me up on her own. Right now it’s just the two of us, but usually that doesn’t last very long and my mum finds a new boyfriend. Some of them have been nice, but the last two were both really horrible. They shouted at me and my mum all the time and I saw her cry a lot.
Once she had a bruise on her face when I came home from school – she said she walked into a door, but I didn’t believe her. I can’t believe she lied like that – didn’t she know I knew all about the rows? At night in bed I heard the fights; I could never sleep no matter how many pillows I put over my head. I heard him slapping and sometimes kicking my mum.
My mum’s always stressed about money and says she doesn’t have time to help me. I always have to wear really old trainers and I’ve grown out of my school uniform, but mum doesn’t have money to buy me a new one. There’s a group of boys at school that bully me. They always stop me on my way home and tell me to give them my money. They know I don’t have any, but they just want to hear me say it. Then they make fun at my short trousers and my old trainers. I don’t tell my mum how scared I am every day to walk home – she wouldn’t listen anyway – she’d tell me she has enough problems of her own.
That’s why I spend a lot of time at my friend’s house. I don’t think my mum even notices. My friend’s parents are still together and they seem nice to each other. His dad and mum both work and they all have supper together at night. His dad asks him how he’s doing in school and his mum sometimes helps him with homework.
I want to be that kind of dad when I’m older. I don’t want to be like those men my mum brings home. But sometimes I get scared that I’m going to turn out just like them. The other day I got really angry with a boy in my class and I punched him. He called me stupid because I never know the answers to the teacher’s question. I got so angry because he doesn’t know how hard it is to read my books at home when my mum and her boyfriend are shouting.
My teacher’s really nice though. She told me it wasn’t OK to hit the other boy, but she also said that bullying isn’t OK. She didn’t fuss over it and so I told her about the boys after school and I also told her what was happening at home. She told me she was worried about me and that she wanted to help my mum and me.
I think she did talk to my mum because my mum’s not been so angry lately. She’s even helped me with some homework. She also took me to a counsellor – someone I could talk to about my worries. I like going there – it feels safe. He helps me to work out how I’m feeling and why I’m feeling angry and sad. Together we think about what I can do to feel better. Things seem better now. I hope they stay that way.