The banging of the living room door rippled through the icy house. Mam’s sobs shivered through the air, adding flesh to the bones my dad had just shattered with his words. The house was quiet. Dad was missing the medication again. Why? Mam’s pains were getting worse as the weather got colder. This formed a combustible mixture which exploded every now and then.
Otherwise this was my favourite time of day, as the cosy bed I loved engulfed my tired body. I wondered what tomorrow would bring as sleep captured me.
I am on the bus, the sun is shining and the cinema is awaiting me. Laughter from the other passengers rings in my ears and proves to be contagious. I feel like I am me and the smile won’t leave my face. I didn’t have to ask mam for any money for my trip to the cinema. She didn’t have to count out her change and give me everything she could – my weekly allowance of £20 is in the bank begging to be spent on fun.
As I left home the air was still tense but I don’t expect miracles; every family has its problems. Dad wasn’t out of bed when I left. It is great not having to bug him for transport, which can be difficult when he is feeling bad. A pre-arranged minibus waited outside my house as I tightened my shoelaces and mam ushered me out of the door, pushing an apple in my pocket for a snack. I felt like a normal child. I loved it.
On the minibus smiling faces welcomed me and my mentor put me at ease chatting about what I wanted to talk about. The film we saw at the cinema was cool and laughing built up my hunger, which was soon fulfilled at a lush pizza place. Nobody looked at us or treated us differently – we were the same as every child in that room, we were children being looked after securely. We were all happy.
On the bus home I peered in my plastic bag at the sparkling pink nail varnish I had treated myself to. I couldn’t wait until when it was quiet again that night at home and I could make myself look extra beautiful. My mentor and I chatted again and I looked at the window at the gleaming lights. My head was clear and my shoulders were empty. The only tense muscles were in my face which I had used smiling and laughing so much. I left the bus feeling light and ran into the house excited to tell parents about my day. They were ecstatic I had enjoyed my day. I loved my life.
Mam’s moans from her early morning pains woke me the next day. As light flooded into my sleepy eyes, reality dawned. The only thing which had been real was my love of life and of my parents. The minibus, cinema, the dazzling lights, unloading all my worries and my natural smiling were all fiction. A dream. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if my dream could come true for rural young carers? Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we weren’t all forgotten about? Wouldn’t it be wonderful if young carers could be children in Britain today?
Laura’s mother has a physical disability. Her father has mental health problems.