My Promise

On a summers evening many years ago, I was standing in a queue at the local fish and chip shop waiting for my turn to be served. In front of me was a little boy who was dressed in shorts and a t-shirt that looked like it had the reminants of a weeks worth of wearing on it. He was crying and pulling at the arm of his young Mother who was talking on her mobile phone. The child appeared to be no more than 4 or 5 years old and his knee was bleeding. As he cried and tugged at her arm, she pushed him away and the blood continued to trickle down his leg. The little boy with his arms stretched up to reach his mother, pounded on her stomach trying to get her attention and the Mother pushed harder at him to stop. The smell of alcohol from the young lady was so strong and she was slurred and staggering. After several attempts to bring her attention to his knee and being met with her aggression, he finally gave up.
The boy in the chip shop stood with one side of his face buried into his Mothers thighs, staring at me and periodically looking down at his wound. Tears rolled down his filthy, beautiful little face.
In that very moment I felt a whole wave of different emotions from anger, frustration and fear, to pity and a deep sense of sadness. The Mother part of me wanted to scoop this child up and wipe away his tears. I wanted him to know that he was loved and that he would be okay. I wanted to shout at the Mother to put the phone down and acknowledge her son and his needs as she seemed oblivious to the discomfort that he was in.  Instead I stood by and did nothing and felt ashamed for not intervening with at the very least a tissue for his knee and also ashamed for judging a young person who was clearly not much more than a child herself. You see, I let fear ride over me once again, because she was drunk. I was afraid of the repercussions for the child and myself. If I brought the fact that she was ignoring him, to her drunk attention, I didn’t know how she would react. I remember being frightened as a child. I remember trying to get my fathers attention when he was so drugged up. I remember…
I made a promise to myself all those years ago that I would acknowledge that little boy by dedicating my first piece of public writing to him because he touched my heart that evening and I will always remember him.


© All Rights Reserved – The boy in the chip shop 2019

Author: Michelle Denness

Wife, mother to three incredible kids and aspiring writer/poet. I am passionate about sharing personal stories to empower others and this space is for me to be open and free with my thoughts. This is my journey...

5 thoughts on “My Promise”

  1. I wondered where the title of your blog came from. That is so distressing and also so moving, I witnessed something similar one day and I did confront the mother gently. I felt a unsure about it as we probably resonate with this due to our childhood history but in a way I am glad I said something.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I have never felt so understood through decades of therapy and groups and friendships and family then I have reading your stories. I was that child, and I’ve been that adult, both the mother and the one you describe who watches in fear… For i watched my own son in our dysfunctional family emotionally bleeding from the tongue of his own mother. I felt helpless and afraid what would happen if I was to step in. What kind of father can’t get past his own emotional wounds to protect his own son.

    The road ahead looks daunting, but all we can do is stay the course. Thank you for being a voice in the wilderness.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. My father was hurting terribly… he didn’t know how to parent. My father was everything to me and even after all of the destruction, I love my father so very much. I understand him. I’m so grateful for what he taught me because without him, I really wouldn’t be who I am today with the beliefs and values that I have.
      How about change the word ‘daunting’ for EMPOWERING 🙏

      Liked by 1 person

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