A Stolen Childhood

A Stolen Childhood by Casey Watson

Book: A Stolen Childhood by Casey Watson Read Free Book Online
Authors: Casey Watson
didn’t want to cry in front of me.
    Shame on you , Mr Hunt, I thought. Shame on you. He hadn’t heard the last of this yet.

Chapter 8
    For all that I wanted to have a few words with Mr Hunt, it was Tommy who I naturally felt obliged to have a stern word with as we made our way back to my classroom. Which did the trick. Almost as soon as I gently upbraided him about his language, his face properly crumpled and this time he did cry.
    Which made me feel even worse. And since he was already in tears, I had no compunction about putting an arm around him now.
    ‘I’m sorry, miss,’ he sniffed, pulling a bit of sweatshirt cuff down over his hand and using it to wipe his face. ‘I don’t mean to shout an’ that, but I can’t help it. Me mum would go mental if she knew I was putting up with stuff like that and not sticking up for myself.’
    ‘And you should stick up for yourself,’ I agreed. ‘Your mum’s right about that. But there’s ways and ways,’ I went on, making a mental note about the ways I might choose to make my own point to Mr Hunt.
    ‘You don’t know what it’s like, miss,’ Tommy said, recovering his composure a little. ‘She really means it. That’s what she tells us all the time – that we mustn’t let anyone treat us bad, ever . That she didn’t take years of beatings just for us to end up the same. Honest to God, miss, she’d swipe me one. She would!’
    I thought it best not to point out the contradiction in what he’d said, not only because I felt a rush of warmth for Mrs Robinson, but also because I completely got where she was coming from; even though I’d not yet met her, from what I’d seen of Tommy so far, I could tell she was a woman who, having lived with fear and violence, was keen to raise her kids to look out for themselves so they didn’t end up in the same boat.
    It wasn’t always that way. From what I’d seen in school, and from the vulnerable adults I’d worked with in my last job, for every woman like Tommy’s mum (who I’d visualised in my head as a no-nonsense, Boudicca-like character) there was another that was too broken, too cowed, to be that robust. The children of these mums reacted to the violence they’d witnessed as their mums did, by being nervous, highly anxious and afraid.
    I didn’t blame them or judge them. They were all victims of domestic violence – a pernicious canker in society whose effects spread far and wide. Tommy, I decided, was probably one of the lucky ones, in that his mother had found the wherewithal to get physically right away. Yes, he’d missed some schooling, but I thought he’d be okay. To have got away from such a situation, and to have started a new life, would most likely have empowered his mum to be determined that her kids would live differently, and Tommy would surely be better off for it. He simply needed to learn how to handle himself more appropriately.
    ‘I can understand that,’ I conceded, ‘but, Tommy, you just can’t lash out, with your fists or your tongue. Certainly not in school, or you’ll end up getting excluded permanently and we don’t want that, do we? I think you just need to learn how to cope better in stressful situations.’
    But Tommy wasn’t to be mollified. ‘What?’ he huffed. ‘Even though the teacher is acting like a dick?’
    I couldn’t help but sympathise. In fact, I wished I could find some clever riposte to slip him; something that would have had the class laughing with him rather than at him. Of course, I didn’t, because to involve myself in such subversive behaviour would be to set off down a very slippery slope – the staff were supposed to present a united front, after all. So instead I sighed sympathetically and said nothing to Tommy. Just made a mental note that I had unfinished business with a certain Mr Hunt.
    We returned to the classroom to find it was proving to be a productive morning. I’d not been gone long, but a great deal had been achieved in my absence –

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