David Coveney

How to Break Kids, in 35 Simple Steps

I just came across this article on BBC News – Foster care: The boy who lived at 35 addresses.

Through my own experience of unofficial fostering and being moved around (thanks, Dad) often at short notice and with little in the way of genuine explanation, I arrived at the age of 13 with little in the way of self-esteem or pride.  Toys I’d loved had disappeared as I could only carry what would fit in a suitcase, people I stayed with varied in the way they treated me.

I was never abused, never beaten… in fact, apart from my Dad himself, I’d say that most people who looked after me we’re very nice people.  But sometimes they’d miss things.  An example is Easter, when I was nine or ten.  I was living with a family in the Isle of Man at the time, and they would split duties with me between the family and the grandparents.  The boy who was a little older than me was a brat, and the girl quite pleasant.

So this Easter arrived, and in the post I received one egg from my grandmother, who always remembered me and was always somebody I could call on for a chat.  It was broken, as Easter eggs don’t travel well, but I was delighted.  Completely, and absolutely delighted.

From the family I got a multi-pack of Cadbury’s Creme Eggs.  But what I could see was that the boy and girl in the family received eggs from lots of relatives.  It’s not that I wanted more chocolate, and at the time it didn’t even hurt that much.  I made no fuss, but it was another indication that I was less than those around me.  My father, to suit his own needs, had asked a random family to look after me for summer.

If I hadn’t had that constant of my grandmother to speak to, receive letters from and get the odd parcel from I think the difference in my outcome would have been vast.  One person cared.

My heart goes out to those who don’t have that.  My own life wasn’t great, but there was something to cling to.  Eventually I lived with my grandmother.  It wasn’t perfect, but she got me through those difficult teen years.  Other kids don’t have that – they get shuttled from home to home, never feeling valued.  It’s heartbreaking.

The image, incidentally, is from the film Kolya, via themoviedb.org

Have your say