Quite a number of years ago,
I worked in a childrens hospital,
in the Accident and Emergency department,
for a short time,
whilst training to be a nurse.
The local children treated the Department,
as if it were their own playground.
playing chase, and hide and seek.
Many of the children,
aged mainly from three years to about eleven,
came from challenging backgrounds.
They were old before their time,
and streets ahead,
of those of us reared in a gentler environment.
These children treated the nurses of A and E,
as if we were their parents.
They came to us crying,
if they fell or hurt themselves.
Although it was often,
under very different circumstances,
to the type of falls my children had.
They used to cycle bikes,
holding onto the back of trucks.
Or climb railings or walls,
of considerable heights.
Then in they would come,
skipping all the queues,
to whoever happened to be their favourite nurse.
We would bathe their wounds,
and put plasters on their cuts,
then search their pockets,
return what should not be there,
and off out they would go once more.
I had a few favourite rogues.
They were cheeky and bold,
but there was something lovely there too.
I remember one particular boy,
who was about ten.
He was a bit unkempt looking,
and had a face full of freckles.
He fancied himself a man,
and took a bit of managing.
He always had a pack following him,
who I must admit were very light fingered.
One day I was dressing a nasty wound,
which he had got a week previously.
The curtains were not pulled,
so we could keep an eye on him.
I was chatting to my friend,
whilst attending to him.
I was in a very bad mood,
as for the second day in a row,
I had been given a ticket,
on my parked car,
for not displaying my car tax.
That meant a fine of €50.
(my tax disc had blown out the window. Honestly!)
I was obviously annoyed,
and quite vocal.
My young friend was also vocal.
“I can’t fe*ken believe the ba*tard gave you a ticket”,
and “Jaysus that’s the f*cken pits”,
were among his comments.
Then he said, “Which car is yours?”.
Now there was no way I was telling him that,
knowing that if I annoyed him one day,
God knows what state I might find my car in after work.
So I told him to butt out.
That I would go to the guards (Irish police),
and they would let me off the fine.
You can only imagine his answers,
when I mentioned the guards!
Eventually he was all patched up,
and off he went.
As I left later that evening,
it was dark.
I admit I cautiously looked around,
but there was no sign of him.
The following day,
I was working 8am to 5pm.
It was dark as I was leaving,
and I was as always a little bit nervous,
walking to my car in the dark.
As I rounded the corner I saw him.
Perched up on the roof of my car,
with his feet dangling over the front windscreen.
I could see he did not seem to have any company,
which was a big relief.
I walked purposely towards him,
and quite aggressively,
told him to get off my car.
He climbed off the car,
looked at me and winked.
I told him not to sit on it again,
and that I would be giving him,
no money for “minding” my car.
He looked at me,
and seemed upset. Genuinely upset,
as he said to me,
“Jaysus, you’re me favourite nurse,
I was just makin sure you got no feckin ticket today!”.
I laughed when he said that,
and began to relax.
Then he told me that he had been there most of the day,
and the “lads” were laughing at him,
but he didn’t care.
“Cos nurse, those feckers know,
that I mean business,
and you got no fe*kin ticket today.
In his own way,
he was charming.
At ten years of age,
he was not like other children I was used to.
And he was very genuinely,
looking after me.
I have often wondered about him since.
The odds were stacked against him.
The truancy officer,
was constantly on his case.
It didn’t cost him a thought,
to rob whatever he saw.
And yet I knew he really and truly,
genuinely cared for me.
Underneath the rough lad,
much older than his years,
was a young boy of ten.
As the weeks went by,
I got to know this young boy so well.
I could see,
he was a victim of birth.
A Mum at home,
with a lot of issues.
a Dad he’d never know.
A child who never got a “normal” education,
and who more than likely,
was in court by the age of thirteen.
A child who came to me,
for the kind of care his mum was not giving him.
I have often looked at my own children,
this young boy hadn’t got a chance!
There was so much potential there,
what became of it?
Not everyone who does wrong is bad.
Maybe some just never had a chance.