Duffel or Donkey

I bought Hubby a couple of puzzle books as part of our £10 dash at Christmas, and have to say they are somewhat of a disappointment.
My own fault, I should have looked more closely, as instead of the anticipated variety of Sudoku, word searches, logic puzzles and crosswords, all we have are crosswords on one page and a word search on the other.

There was a clue on one yesterday ‘Short woollen coat’, the answer of which took me back to 1984 and my first foster kid.
He was 14 and his Mum had put him into voluntary care as she couldn’t cope.
Before he’d taken his coat off, we laid out the house rules, which applied not only to visitors but the resident kids too. No-one had preferential treatment, and if he thought he could try it on, he was sorely mistaken.
He should have been with us for two weeks, but ended up staying six months.

With winter coming up, I asked his social worker if he had another coat. The answer was to kit him out with new clothes for which I would be reimbursed on production of receipts.
Obviously the ‘House Kids’ weren’t too happy about this until I pointed out all the clothes they had in the cupboards and drawers, and the few things our guest had in comparison.
I also told them that when they needed shoes or new trousers, they got them, so to think themselves lucky.

Being on a limited budget (story of my life!) I used to do all my clothes shopping for the family by mail order. So much better than trying to organise two or three kids in tow, or finding somewhere to park etc etc, then listening to the grizzles.
Sadly this wasn’t acceptable so I had to literally go into a shop. I picked a day when we could all go, Partner included, and the promise of a McDs went down very well if everyone behaved.
It wasn’t too bad actually, as I got two pairs of school trousers, jeans, underwear, socks, and a couple of sweat shirts from a supermarket chain, but the coat was a major deal.
Luckily, there was an army and navy surplus store in Bath, and we went in there.
I picked out a duffel coat which was practical and warm, but the lad wasn’t too happy as none of the kids at school wore them, which was fair enough.
Something else caught my eye, and I picked it up.
‘What about this?’ I asked.
His eyes grew as big as saucers and he said ‘Really? I can have that?’
He tried it on, and it was perfect, not too big, but at least a year’s growing room, and for the price, around £12 I think, definitely affordable.

I spent around £30 on his wardrobe that day and was reimbursed as promised within 7 days. The others didn’t go without either, coming home with a new track suit each and all three had new trainers.
He lived in that donkey jacket and said it was ‘very him’. It was actually and he didn’t look out of place with the other school kids, which he had before.
I had to laugh when I met the Headmaster to introduce myself when it became clear he was going to be with us for a while. He said he’d heard all about me already because I could cook!

When he left us, he was placed in a children’s home prior to being returned to his Mum.
The pair of them got drunk on cooking sherry and she dumped him in a taxi back to the home in such a state, he was admitted to hospital with alcohol poisoning.
He never went home after that, but we had a girl staying with us by then, so he couldn’t come back to us.
He’d be approaching 50 now.


About pensitivity101

I am a retired number cruncher with a vivid imagination and wacky sense of humour which extends to short stories and poetry. I love to cook and am a bit of a dog whisperer as I get on better with them than people sometimes! In November 2020, we lost our beloved Maggie who adopted us as a 7 week old pup in March 2005. We decided to have a photo put on canvas as we had for her predecessor Barney. We now have three pictures of our fur babies on the wall as we found a snapshot of Kizzy, my GSD when Hubby and I first met so had hers done too. On February 24th 2022 we were blessed to find Maya, a 13 week old GSD pup who has made her own place in our hearts. You can follow our training methods, photos and her growth in my blog posts. From 2014 to 2017 'Home' was a 41 foot narrow boat where we made strong friendships both on and off the water. We were close to nature enjoying swan and duck families for neighbours, and it was a fascinating chapter in our lives. We now reside in a small bungalow on the Lincolnshire coast where we have forged new friendships and interests.
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20 Responses to Duffel or Donkey

  1. colinandray says:

    Re child abuse (and animal abuse) Doesn’t it make you wonder how some people can sleep at night?

    • I felt so bad when he was moved, but it was decided we could do no more for him and they wanted an ‘interim place’ prior to him going back home. He stayed in the home until he was 18, but in those days, social services had after care units and support when the kids reached 17 to prepare them for adulthood.

  2. Foster ‘care’ raises red flags with me because of my own bad experience in it. It’s nice, therefore to read about the ‘good’ carers, who actually took care of the children that were placed with them. And you’ve inadvertently added a plank to my “why do some people procreate?” I’m blogging about that in part on my Sunday Sparks today. Great post Di! And kudos to you for being a great mom!!

    • I tried to be Melanie. I haven’t got kids, and for those that came to us I tried to give them a little piece of what I had growing up. The kids were 4 and 6 when I moved in, then we took on fostering too. It’s one of the better and most rewarding things that came out of that relationship..

  3. That is so sad. Makes you realise the crap childhoods some kids have.

  4. Sadje says:

    You’re a kind and thoughtful person. I hope he fared well in life.

  5. scifihammy says:

    I’d say the puzzle book was worth it – because it prompted this marvellojus memory. I’m sure the boy still remembers his time with you. 🙂

  6. I don’t suppose you know what happened to him or were you not allowed to know what happened after they left you?

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