Crystal is ten. Today she went swimming with her dad then she came home to me. We made cakes while listening to the top 20 count down on the radio. At times we would break in to song, even stop to have a dance off in the kitchen. We laughed, we hugged and we made great brownies. After, we watched some TV, Crystal went to bed, I went to bed. Crystal then got up and got into my bed. She fell asleep with me stroking her little face and I couldn’t sleep. She is ten. She is happy, well behaved, clever, polite, helpful, thoughtful and my daughter. How is she my daughter? I was never taught to be a mum like this. Today felt like how a home should be, how a family should be.


Michaela was ten. By the time she reached ten she had got drunk, she had smoked, had a fight and been assaulted. She spent her Sundays out on her bike trying to sneak into the swimming pool or get in half price with her mum’s giro book. By the age of ten she had had sleepless nights in fear, accidentally taken drugs, learnt how to lie and steal. Hugs for Michaela came when guilt got the better of the person who beat her. Home for Michaela by the age of ten had been a two-bed council flat with a family of five, or a room in a b&b and even on sofas or top and tail with family associates.


I hope, today, by the age of ten, I can’t sleep because I realise I have broken the cycle of broken children.


Prison took me age 21. The system didn’t care about the 10 year old Michaela’s.


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