Andy’s Story

I was born in the 1960’s, the second youngest in a very large family. My father worked in many jobs and was always worried about being made redundant. My mother worked full time in the family home rearing us. We lived in a rough area of the city where there was high levels of unemployment, crime and drug use. I didn’t realise it at the time but my parents tried their best to protect us and remove us from all of this. I went to school some distance from our home and we weren’t given a lot of time to be on the streets. When I wasn’t in school I was playing football, down at the youth club or with the scouts.

Going to a different school from the other kids in my area was definitely an issue for me when I was a child. I had to walk so that meant getting up early and coming home late. At first it just annoyed me and made me feel sorry for myself but as I got older I began to feel that I was different and maybe abit special.

Neither of my parents were talkers but they both showed me lots of affection. There was always plenty of hugs, kisses and comfort. They never said much to each other but were always effectionate to each other.  Both my parents worked hard to create a homely environment and many a problem was sorted out with a cup of tea or a piece of cake. There was always a smell of cooking in the house. They were great at noticing when things weren’t going well (fighting with friends, difficulties in school etc.) and doing just the right thing to make me feel better. They took great care to make sure we enjoyed Christmas’s and birthdays. We never got expensive things but they were always things that were thoughtful and useful, even though there were lots of us.

The house was run strictly, which it had to be because of the number of us. The odd time we would get a slap for being bold but the worst was when dad got into a silent mood with you. You knew then you were in big trouble. The one thing he won’t put up with was us fighting so we tended to sort out our problems before he knew about them. Mam did alot of the sorting as well.

 I knew my mam and dad were proud of me particularly when I began to do well in school. They had both left school early and I knew they valued me getting a good education. I remember they would always make a big deal of what I was doing in school, telling friends, aunties and uncles how good I was doing.

They taught us how to be happy by being happy themselves – they took time to enjoy their lives and included us in this enjoyment (for example at Halloween making fools of themselves by joining in playing our Halloween games).  They had many interests and encouraged us to develop interests particularly in the area of sport. I remember many happy holidays, camping. Even though they didn’t have much money they made sure we went on lots of day trips to the zoo, to local parks and to the seaside.

My parents were’nt articulate or well educated people and they found it difficult to talk about emotions. There way of expressing themselves was through actions and for me it worked. I remember one time having a problem with a teacher and telling them. Their response which really annoyed me at the time was to say “here have a cup of tea it will work itself out”. I ended up sorting it myself by going to the teacher and saying I felt he was being hard on me. He was a good teacher and instead of beating the lard out of me which others would have done, he said “ you know what Andy that’s because I think you can do better”. He ended up becoming one of my favourite teachers.

Of course with my own children I do things differently. I encourage them to talk out their problems and emotions with me. I think this is a better way but sometimes I am not so sure. For some reason I feel my parents had a very special skill which was to make me feel loved and special by simply doing the right thing. They taught me how to be happy by being happy content and happy themselves. They thought me how to be ambitious my pushing me.

They valued a good education more than anything else and I benefited from this. I now have a good job and a good family life. I am ambitious but content. Funny enough in the really bad times I still resort to the cup of tea and a cake.