What Daddy Did

What Daddy Did by Donna Ford

Book: What Daddy Did by Donna Ford Read Free Book Online
Authors: Donna Ford
jealous of this little thing taking his place. No longer was he the one getting all the attention; here was a threat to the affections of his mother. He would often nip baby Andrew or torment him when Helen wasn't looking. When the baby cried, it wouldn't be Gordon who got into trouble; it would be me.
I can't recall having an enormous amount of interaction with Andrew; often, he just went off into his own little world. Yet he must have been so alone and confused in that terrible, dysfunctional house. I have a school photograph of him when he was around 10, a fair-haired, blue-eyed child wearing exactly the expression I recall when I think of him.
Although he was treated differently from me by Helen, I can't ever remember him being really nasty. Yes, he joined in watching brother Gordon taunt me, and he was not discouraged by Helen, but he seemed different. He, too, was a witness for Helen at her trial, but unlike her older son I didn't recognise him as the man he had become. As far as I am concerned, Andrew was another one of Helen's victims. He was only six years old when his mother left him. She also left someone who, to me, was far more precious.
Helen's youngest child was a little girl called Karen, born in October 1969. This baby was to change things dramatically for me. Through her I was to learn how to love someone and to know how it felt to have someone love you back.
The run-up to Karen's birth was a frenetic, fraught time in the house because there were so many arguments between my father and Helen. I can only speculate that this may well have had something to do with the miracle of Helen becoming pregnant when my father knew he could no longer have children. Maybe there were a few discussions over who the biological father could be. I recall the day of her birth clearly and how she was born at home in the bedroom my Dad shared with Helen. I remember Helen's moans and the fuss and drama, then seeing the placenta lying in a potty in the bath.
When I saw Karen, I was so pleased because she was lovely. She was round and cherubic and so vulnerable. I got many opportunities to push her up and down the lobby in her big pram, rocking her to sleep; and as I did, I pretended – as with her brother – that she was my dolly. I'm sure if Helen had realised how much I enjoyed this 'chore', she would have stopped it.
I was so small that I could push the pram by going under the handle and moving it from the end of the pram itself. As I pushed and rocked her, she would look at me. I remember making little faces at her as she laughed and smiled. I loved this! How nice it was to have this positive response in someone. But I also worried. I thought that she would grow up and see that I was bad and ugly and evil, then she would no longer smile at me – but that never happened.
As well as pushing the pram, I was involved with basic chores connected with the baby such as washing nappies and sometimes feeding her. I didn't see much of her, however, because I was in my room so much. When Helen left, and I had to take full-time care of Karen, it wasn't easy – I was 11 years old – but I was more than happy to do it.
I remember that first morning after Helen left so well. We were all milling around the house in a state of confusion, yet I was so happy. I just couldn't believe that she had finally gone. The most surprising thing for me was that she had left Karen behind. When Helen had left a year previously for a little while, just after Karen's birth, she'd taken the baby with her. I'd really missed the little one. I'd missed her smiling face as I pushed her in the pram.
As time went on, Karen would beam at me whenever she saw me. Being so small, I had to stand on something to lift her out of the cot but I managed it. I also managed to bathe her and feed her and then spend whole days playing with her. She and I went virtually everywhere together. I finally had someone to love properly in this baby

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