This first appeared on Ungagged and was dramatised by Raiph on an episode of Ungagged Podcast (starts at 22mins 54 secs approx).
My teacher taught me to be more resilient today. I fell and I cried,
and I was embarrassed she saw me. But my teacher said, “life can be
like that. Just pick yourself up again, and get on with it.”
It started out an ordinary day. I had to get to school. Da’ had come round to the flat last night.
My maw and da are not living in the same house. Maw’s nerves are bad. Da makes them bad.
Me and Iain had been out lookin’ for maw. She goes out sometimes and
forgets we can’t get in. Somebody grassed and my da came round and hit
the door through. Maw was in the house after all, but she had had some
of her medicine and hadn’t heard us. Da shouted at her that he couldn’t
have the we’ans coming round to his in case he was reported to the
social. And maw flew at him with a bottle.
Iain gets all upset when they fly at each other. I tell him to get behind the couch and get down.
Da caught the bottle on the arm, and telt her that if she did that
again he’d cut her. She said if he didn’t get the bleep out, she’d have
the polis on tae him. He jist said, “keep them we’ans aff the street
at this time of night or I’ll have ye seen tae.”
He had her seen tae one night outside the flat. That oul’ woman at
9b came out and pelted the guys with clothes pegs, like that could
help. But they ran away, and she brought maw into her house. It was a
really nice house. Warm, with lights. Maw was in some state. And they
guys had taken her bottle. After she was fixed up, maw and us went back
to our flat and maw telt us never to speak to that nosey oul’ biddy
When da’ went back out of the flat, maw give me a leatherin. “why
the bleep did ye go to that bam,” she shouted. I say bleep ‘cause I
don’t like bad words. Maw and da say them aw the time. They fly like
broken bottles across the street from their gobs when they see each
other. After she leathered me (I don’t cry, ‘cause that can make it
worser), she telt me she was sorry and things were bad and that I was a
pretty wee thing. Her wee Norah.
Onyways, Iain and me, we went and slept on the same mattress in the other room. We’ve a duvet each an’ we can share.
I don’t sleep all through the night. Sometimes its ‘cause maw is
singin’ and dancin’ after her medicine. Sometimes, its just ‘cause I’m
listening out for da.
I woke just when the light was startin’ and I crept through to see where maw was. She wasn’t in the flat.
Our flat isn’t warm. It isn’t light. Sometimes people in school talk
about when they get up out of bed and they get their breakfasts from
their maw’s and they have a shower and stuff. Our maw isnae like
that. We do get showers, especially when the social worker is
coming. But maw hasn’t been good in the past few weeks. She gets the
The water is cold, but I make Iain wash his oxters and face an’
hauns. Iain is older than me, but he has special needs. Or the
depression. They seem the same to me.
Our school Uniform isn’t in the flat. An’ I know what maw has
done. She has done it before and promised not to. The social will be
roun’ later, because the only thing I have to go to school in is a pair
of shorts and a vest. Iain has a ripped pair of jeans and a power
rangers pyjama top. She mustn’t have been able to fit our welly boots
into the plastic bag last night, or maybes people don’t want to buy
wellies. She calls it, “robbin’ Peter tae pay Paul.” Paul must be the
skinny man who she gets her medicine from.
When we are leaving, I leave the door on the latch. Maw might not
have remembered her key, and if she has a lot of medicine in somebody’s
house, she might not be hame tae the morra.
The school isn’t too far. I don’t know the time, but I know when the
morning rolls are being delivered to Detsy’s, its near breakfast club
When we got to the school, Charlie the breakfast club guy, said,
“Youse must be freezin’!” and he gets us uniforms, socks and
trainers. People in the school give them in when they are too wee for
them. He lets me choose, and I choose the ones that look the oldest, so
maw won’t try an’ sell them again.
Breakfast club is great… walking in here, into this big new building,
with its big hall and light and warm and things to do is like
sunrise. It’s like when I had a torch and I was able to light our room
one night when it was scarey. This place is the only place my forehead
doesn’t feel tight. Sometimes I feel so happy here, I get a bit out of
control, and the teachers shout at me. But its not like da’ or maw
shouting. Its safe shouting.
One of the times I do feel bad is when people are getting points for
bringing in their homework. I never have mines done. I cant do it. I
don’t have time. You don’t get told off for not doing it, but its like
one of maws slaps when Kylie Loft gets points. She’s horrible. She
wouldn’t give me a share of her big bag of Doritos last Tuesday, even
when she gave Maisie, Tina and Mohammed some when we were playin’ tig,
because she says, “Norah never shares anythin’.” I wish I did have some
stuff to share. I feel bad when its my birthday and’ the teacher sings
happy birthday. Because I never have a cake or sweets to give the
Our teacher is nice. But I wish she’d stop giving points for things
my maw and da’ can’t do, like best costume on World book Day, or for
wearing all your school uniform, or for healthy snacks or home learning
projects. I don’t mind people getting points I suppose. But all them
projects are mostly done by people’s maws. Their maw hasn’t got the
health my maw has. I can never get points. And that’s like a punch in
the stomach sometimes.
The school dinners are the best. I pretend I hate them like Tina
does. I know Tina loves them like me. Where do you get food like
that? Its all different colours! Things you just don’t get normally in
the chippy or outta tin. Mr Singh behind the counter likes me. He
gives me extra stuff and winks.
Onyways, after lunch, it was gonna be circle time. I like afternoons
an aw, but I get a wee bit sad because I know its nearly time for home,
and I knew it would be cold, and I knew my maw wouldn’t be there. And
sometimes I get angry at my friends because they haven’t Iain to look
after, or maw to clean or da’ to hide from. And on the way up the stair
to class, I tripped and I fell and I didn’t want to get up. And I
wanted Mrs Madigan, the classroom assistant to pick me up and give me a
wee cuddle and tell me things would be awright. Mrs Madigan says, we
have a jar that you have inside you that should be filled with cuddles
and love, and when you feel sad, you can use one of the cuddles and
pieces of love from your jar to help you keep going.
But our teacher came back just before Mrs Madigan and told me to get up and taught me resilience.
Resilience is when you pick yourself up and brush yourself down and start all over again. So my teacher says.
I count the cuddles and love going in to my jar. I don’t have much
in there, but when I get them, I clamp the lid down tight and remember
and remember them. Because I know that one day Iain and me might need