Tanning for a shoplifter

I came from a mixed family background – my mum is African and my dad, who I never knew, is English. Before my mum got ill and I was taken into foster care, life was OK for a working class mother. 

But the care system was racist, and my first foster family – although ‘good Christians’ – loved reminding me how much I was ‘lucky to be taken in’. They had been told about my shoplifting days before my mum got ill, and reminded me how much of a sin it was to steal.

These constant reminders to be ‘grateful’ really pissed me off, if I’m honest. It wasn’t my fault my mum had gotten ill!

After about a year in care, often being brought back home in a police car and receiving a smacked bottom for my troubled, I finally prevailed and around the age of 11, I was allowed to move in instead with my uncle (actually Mum’s stepbrother) and his girlfriend.

Having a young girl in the house was all new for him and my uncle’s only motivation for taking me in was the money.

He worked as a security guard and occasional driver, so it was often just me and his girlfriend at home. I think my presence cramped her comfortable lifestyle. She was white, so I don’t think me being brown-skinned helped. You could tell she was embarrassed by my presence, and we rarely went out to do any shopping together or go elsewhere in public.

Soon my shoplifting habit intensified, and naturally it wasn’t long before I was caught. I can’t remember what I stole – probably clothes and make-up. My uncle was away driving, so she had to come to the store to collect me as I was underage, and the police had to be called also. 

When she arrived and came through to the shop office, the guard had been lecturing me, trying to intimidate me – if I’m honest, I was petrified. He kept saying I needed a good lesson, and that if I was his child, I would have been very sorry.

Once my uncle’s girlfriend arrived, she listened to what had happened. The security man had already searched me. She just apologised and roughly grabbed hold of me.

Then the security guard said that the police were not attending as a legal guardian had turned up. He then made me sign a notice, acknowledging that I was barred from the store.

As I did so, my uncle’s girlfriend told the man – with some relish – that I would be getting a good hiding once she got me home. The guard nodded his approval.  

She kept her promise, too. When she got me home, she took down my leggings and knickers and I got tanned for a good while with both her hand and a belt. I got my bare bottom warmed again once my uncle got home and it hurt to sit down for a good while.

Contributor: Shanti

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