You Don’t Understand: A Tender Story from our Archives

teenage boy lying on settee, dog beside it

You Don’t Understand


Sit back and enjoy this coffee break tale

Sometimes, only our most precious and enduring memories can help  us find our way  to a happy future


I waited until we were out of the Head’s office before I turned to face my son. “Jamie, I can’t believe you hit someone; you’re fourteen. I thought we’d taught you better than that.”

“But I didn’t start it,” he complained.

“That’s not the point.”

“Are you going to tell Mum?”

“Of course, Jamie. Anyway, she’ll want to know.”

“I hate you!” he cried. “And anyway, you’re not my real dad, if you were you’d be on my side.”

Later that evening, Jamie came into the kitchen as I was telling Stella what had happened.

“You couldn’t wait, could you?” he yelled, anger etched across his face.

Stella wiped her eyes. “Jamie, Dad was right to tell me.”

“I asked him not to and he ignored me. Well I’m not going to the match on Father’s Day with him.” He stomped upstairs and slammed the bedroom door.

Jamie’s bad mood affected everyone.

“You can’t keep behaving like this,” Stella shouted, as he slammed yet another door.

“It’s no good keep shouting at him,” I snapped.

“So what do you suggest?”

“Well, us arguing isn’t helping. I’m going for a walk.”

At last Jamie is our son

I returned feeling calmer and spotted Stella in the living room poring over the contents of a box. I heard Jamie’s voice.

“Whatcha doing, Mum?”

“Just sorting some photos.”

I stood nearby, close enough to see but not be seen.

“We haven’t looked at these for ages,” Jamie murmured, picking out a photo and reading out what was written on the back. “Celebration Day, Family Court. Mum, Dad and Jamie, age 3, Judge Mathers, social workers, Jean and Wendy.” His voice wavered.

“Read the last bit then, love,” prompted Stella.

“At last, Jamie is our son.” He frowned. “Didn’t the Judge give me a blue teddy?”

Stella reached into the box. “Here he is. When you were eight you said you were too old for a teddy and threw him away. I rescued him.”

Jamie took the bear. “I’m still too old but I’ll stick him in my drawer,” he muttered. He took a book from the box. “My Life Story,” he read.

“Such a brilliant book,” said Stella. “The social workers recorded your life story from birth; about your birth parents and why they couldn’t look after you; your foster carers, and your journey right up to when we adopted you. We shared it with you, so you’d always know where you came from.”

“I remember.”

“Do you remember at one point you’d only let Dad read it with you?”

Jamie looked thoughtful. “I’d forgotten, but now you’ve said… we did a lot of stuff together then. I miss that.”

I’m really glad you’re my mum and dad

I felt choked on hearing his words and slipped into the kitchen.
Sunday morning dawned bright and early when Jamie came into our bedroom carrying a tray of tea and toast. “Mornin’,” he said gruffly, placing the tray on the bedside cabinet.

I rubbed my eyes. “Am I dreaming? It’s only eight on a Sunday morning.”

He said nothing and walked out of the room. My heart sank.

Jamie returned, carrying something which he laid on my lap. “Happy Father’s Day, Dad. I made our Life Story book.”

The photo taken in Court was on the cover and written underneath was: Mum, Dad and Jamie – The Beginning.

He hopped up on the bed and sat between me and Stella. Turning the pages, we shared memories triggered by the pictures and mementoes he’d kept from over the years.

He closed the book. “That’s it. My family.” He hugged us both. “I’m sorry. I’m really glad you’re my mum and dad.”

I took a deep breath. “Can we go to the match then, son?”

A split second of silence fell before Jamie’s beaming smile told me everything.


Read more lovely stories every week in My Weekly

More free stories for you


Karen Byrom

My coffee mug says "professional bookworm" which sums me up really! As commissioning fiction editor on the magazine, I love sharing my reading experience of the latest books, debut authors and more with you all, and would like to hear from you about your favourite books and authors! Email me