It was hard not to notice the Thornton triplets. If it wasn’t for their bright ginger, curly locks, then it was for their loud damn mouths. 19 long years have I had to deal with the noisy nigglers and it seems with age, they aren’t getting much better.
I am Ceci Thornton, older sister and often rein holder of the troublesome threesome, Jack, Joey and Jason. I was born 9 years before they came along and honestly, 9 years of bliss that I reminisce back too more than I would admit to them. I lived a once harmonise life with the parents, Chris and Jodie of London, born and raised, and unlike my brothers, I was planned. My parents were quite open with me from an early age as they wanted me to a well-rounded, young, high achiever and honesty was the best policy as my father would say. Something that he really, truly worshipped so it would seem.
Not long after my brothers were born my father left. He said that he honestly, he couldn’t deal with having 4 children as the plan was to only have 2, get a dog and live happily ever after but the triplets alone were driving him mad and into an early grave he said. Unfortunately, he did end up in an early grave from a pile up on the M1 a year later… I guess it was honestly that lead his life and death… The loss left my mother heartbroken and overwhelmed, overworked and under supported. At the time I was about to turn 12 and I knew then that I had to step up and help my mother out, whether I liked it or not, whether I knew how to or not.
Now, there’s not a huge amount a 12 year old can do to help an adult out and I found that out pretty quickly. I did what I could around the house, I cleaned and tidied, I took the bins out, I kept the kids entertained whilst my mother did the other stuff that I couldn’t do, even the occasional stroll round the block but only in summer. I learnt how to change diapers and I helped around the kitchen as best I could at a measly 4 ft 5 and of course, safety of the child at the forefront of mother’s mind but she had to learn to treat me more like an adult now as I was the only one around the house that resembled one.
My mother had no choice but to ask for my aunties help. We called her mad auntie Julie as she wasn’t the most logical thinker of the family… I remember when she looked after me once I was younger and I fell off my bike, as soon as she saw me on the ground crying she ran back into the house to grab my favourite soft toy – which was the cutest but very white bunny rabbit I got from my godparents when I was born – as she thought I was crying because it was only me and her as thought I wanted comfort rather than the fact my bike was lying bent next to me and blood was pouring from my knee... Her head was in the cloud, I would say, nearly all the time but she did have a heart of gold.
My Auntie would look after us Monday through to Wednesday whilst my mother worked part time which she managed to coerce her work into allowing her to have as full time, she was a machine and she proved that part time, that machine still worked as efficiently. My Auntie didn’t really do much, at least from what I could see. I would get home and the kids would be playing havoc and she would be calmly sipping tea, reading a magazine. When I got home from school I would essentially take over but lucky for my mother, my auntie didn’t need the money and free child care was better than no child care.
This carried on for a couple of years but once I got to 15, I was doing all the things that she could do. I was cooking the kids breakfasts, making them pack up even taking them to school. I would pick them up and look after them until mother came home. By that point, she was picking up extra shifts at work as her job had changed when the market took a hit and so my responsibility went up and in turn my education took a nose dive. I enjoyed having the kids really, I was pretty good at it to be honest and even though they were a handful, I sure did enjoy the challenge.
That is, until my mother went to prison. I wish I could say it was for something major and exciting, unfortunately, not so exciting a little disappointing. It was a hit and run. She of course blamed the kids and said it was due to rushing to get them to school and she was late for work and wasn’t paying attention to the roads. Living in London town, the roads were always busy so there was likely some truth in what she said but not stopping was her mistake.
So here we are. Father dead, mother in prison for manslaughter and an uneducated, unemployed 19-year-old with 3 young brothers. The joys.
I sit on the beach trying to find solution in the salty waters. Obviously, the custodian battle had begun and it looks like my life would be thrown up in the air and then I see a ship, sauntering down the Thames and then it occurred to me. We had to get away, somewhere that didn’t mean my mad auntie could take us in and stick us in private school along her kids and somewhere my mum would be able to know where to find us when she got out.
I jumped off the edge of the river and ran home, prepping our new live away from the big smoke along a new horizon.