I’ll never forget David

Coming to school in a dirt-caked oversized jumper

washing his grubby face and hands in the school toilet sink

with the cake of soap, I’d provided.

“They burned the floorboards in the grate,” the Social Worker said

“I had to take her shopping and show her how to budget and cook

and He wasn’t much better.”

But of course, David  wasn’t removed. Stayed with his family unit

because she adored her children, just didn’t know how to

pay the bills, or cook or clean.


I organised a trip to the pool and the park and took her aside.

“He’ll need some swimming shorts but we’ll pay for the trip so he can go with the rest.

What fun!”

and she beamed her approval and said she understood.

So I thought no more about it


his little radiant face looked up at me at the side of the pool

amidst the giggles from his more experienced class classmates

spilling out from the changing rooms

and I looked down at his new orange trunks over  greyish underpants

on a little ingrained body with white hands.

Of course I ran him to the showers and explained

what needed to happen next so there would be no further embarrassment

just a little too late.