A FATHER of five has spoken of his shock after his wife ran off with their teenage lodger. I could hardly hear the TV above my wife Sarah’s chattering.
Pointedly turning up the volume I motioned for her to wind up the call. It was 11pm, she’d been on her mobile phone for ages. It’s Tasmin.’ She mouthed. Tasmin worked with Sarah at the care home where she worked.
Although Sarah was almost 20 years older than her, the pair had become close friends after Sarah had started mentoring her. Now they texted most evenings.
‘She’s a great kid,’ she’d said. ‘But she’s having a hard time at the moment.’
‘Everything alright?’ I asked when eventually she hung up. ‘Not really,’ Sarah said. ‘She’s had an argument with her parents. She told them that she was gay. She’s nowhere to go. ‘That’s terrible,’ I said. She was only 17, two years older than our oldest son, Louis and three years younger than our eldest daughter Lucy, 21. My brother’s gay, I knew it couldn’t have been easy for her coming out.
‘Give her a call back,’ I said. ‘She can come her for a few nights, kip on the sofa.’ ‘Are you sure you don’t mind?’ Sarah said. ‘It’s fine.’ We had five kids ourselves.
I couldn’t leave a teenage girl alone on the streets. Half an hour later we’d driven her back to ours. There wasn’t a lot of room what with our four youngest kids living at home – Louis, 15, Chloe, 13, Charlie 11, and Harvey, seven – but Tasmin could kip on the sofa. Tasmin was a nice kid.
Chloe clicked with her straight off and treated her like a big sister. I’d find them baking together in the kitchen, or to see Tasmin giving her a makeover.
It wasn’t long before Tasmin seemed like one of the family. We took all of them out bowling for a treat. It was nice having a full house again, like before our oldest, Lucy, 21, moved out to start her own family. But after a fortnight, I had a few concerns.
Not so much with Tasmin, but Sarah. She was staying up late drinking, and acting like a teenager herself. She’d even taken up smoking. ‘Haven’t,’ she said sulkily when I asked her about. But I wasn’t stupid. I could smell it on her breath. She couldn’t be bothered with the kids either, like they were an annoyance.
She just wanted to spend all her time with Tasmin. ‘She’s going through a difficult time,’ she reminded me. One morning, I woke to find I’d overslept. I sat up in a panic, the kids would be late for school. ‘Sarah, get up!’ I said groggily.
But her side of the bed was empty. I assumed she’d got up earlier but when I went downstairs she was fast asleep on the sofa next to Tasmin. I was annoyed. No doubt they’d been up late drinking and chatting. The only difference was, Tasmin was a teenager and Sarah was a grandma and had five kids to think about… ‘C’mon get up!’ I said, shaking her shoulder.
‘Ugh, I feel terrible,’ she whined. ‘Come on Sarah, I don’t want them seeing you like this, it’s not fair.’ ‘I can do what I like. Get off my back!’ she spat. Angry, I left her to it. But the next morning she was in the same place, curled up next to Tasmin. ‘We’re supposed to be a team,’ I said as she struggled into the kitchen. ‘What’s got into you?’ ‘If I want to spend my evenings with Tasmin, that’s up to me,’ Sarah retorted. ‘Come on, Mum!’ Louis said, embarrassed. Sarah and I rarely argued. Now though, we seemed to constantly be at each other’s throats.
As I drove the kids to school I couldn’t help hoping that Tasmin would find somewhere else to live – and soon. But as the days passed, she seemed to be getting more and more comfy while mine and Sarah’s relationship was becoming more and more tense.
One evening Tasmin was out and I was cooking dinner when I could hear Louis shouting. ‘What now?’ I thought wearily. When I got into the living room, Louis was in tears. ‘What’s going on?’ I said. ‘Mum said she doesn’t love you any more Dad and she’s leaving!’ he bawled.
‘What’s going on now?’ I sighed. I looked at Sarah expecting her to tell me it was a joke. ‘It’s true,’ she said, ashen-faced. Then she walked out of the room. I followed her upstairs. ‘What’s going on? Is it something I’ve done? Whatever it is, we can sort it out.’ But she ignored me and carried on packing her bag ‘Sarah, please,’ I pleaded.
‘Please stay. We can sort it.’ ‘I can’t,’ she said, zipping up her bag.
I was begging her, I had no idea what was going on.
‘Well what about Tasmin?’ I asked. ‘What shall I do when she gets home and asks where you are?’ ‘You don’t need to worry about Tasmin,’ she said. ‘She’s got somewhere else to live.’ It was the first I’d heard of it but I still didn’t put two and two together.
The kids were devastated as Sarah drove away. ‘Why’s Mummy going?’ Harvey asked. ‘When will she be back?’ said Charlie. I didn’t know what to tell them. I didn’t know myself. Then Lucy called. She lived nearby with her boyfriend and baby son Oliver, two. ‘What’s going on, Dad?’ she said. ‘I’ve just seen Facebook…’ ‘What do you mean? I asked, logging on as we spoke. I soon found out.
Sarah had changed her status to say she was in a relationship with Tasmin.