I am longing to continue posting the content I have been working on, digging into Annabelle Riley’s teenage years. However, I have found my thoughts slightly muddled by some of the Child Safeguarding training I have had to do recently with the NHS.
There is one particular section that I have been analysing. It picks up where we left off…Annabelle is still fourteen and Christmas has passed. The start of the new year brings snow, lots of snow. Annabelle is still trudging up to Sand’s house each Saturday so that she has the chance to see Dean, who is practicing every weekend with the rest of the band. But at this stage, there are no walks in the park with Dean, and she is missing that time alone she used to have with him.
During the snowy months, a teacher at Annabelle’s school sends a letter to her parents to report that the shoes Annabelle has been wearing need to be replaced. The snow has ruined the flimsy shoes she used to wear. For her 15th birthday (which if you have read the books you may know is in March) her parents present Annabelle with a pair of new school shoes as her birthday gift. When Annabelle sees them she is mortified. She knows that if she wears them for school, her peers will mock her.
Now in my head…there were all sorts of possibilities that I had played with, but the Child Safeguarding training has made me uncomfortable with them.
Annabelle has asked her parents if they would consider giving her an allowance or “pocket-money”. Her parents decline and say if there is anything she needs they can ask them. Annabelle has asked if she might be able to find a job so she can earn some money for herself, but again her parents tell her they want her just to concentrate on her school work, and if there is anything she needs they will provide it.
But the “dorky shoes” incident has presented challenges to me. I cannot have Annabelle turn to Dean over these shoes. For a start, she is embarrassed about them. She does not want Dean to look down on her. Secondly, Dean has already made a comment to Annabelle which has had a deep impact on her, his mother passed away when he was a youngster, and his father has been behind bars for most of Dean’s life. So he rebukes Annabelle for complaining about her parents when he first meets her.
I also know she won’t complain to Lauren about the shoes. She looks up to Lauren. Plus although it is Lauren who takes Annabelle shopping for lingerie, school shoes are just not on Lauren’s radar.
So…it seems obvious that the person that Annabelle speaks to about the dorky shoes is Sandy, Liam’s mother. Only how will Sandy react? Sandy is a lovely lady, and she seems to have a better idea of the challenges a fourteen year old girl faces than Annabelle’s parents do. Remember Annabelle’s parents are now in their mid-late fifties and their attention is focused on their grandchildren rather than their youngest (unplanned) child.
But Sandy is also a very responsible person. She has already expressed her concern over the connection between fourteen year old Annabelle and eighteen year old Dean. So, she is not going to abandon her astute sense when it comes to how to support Annabelle who is clearly upset at the idea that her parents would buy her such “dorky shoes”.
I have decided that initially, Sandy might sympathise over the shoes and might search her own closet in search of something that might fit Annabelle. But soon, Sandy decides she will allow Annabelle to pick out some shoes from an online retailer and have them delivered to her home. Annabelle knows that if her parents see a different pair of shoes, there will be trouble, so the shoes Sandy buys will have to stay in her school locker.
Of course, Annabelle wants to pay for the shoes, but she has no money. Liam suggests to his mother than Annabelle might be able to help out in her Health Shop. Sandy makes it clear that she cannot go against Annabelle’s parents by providing a source of income for her. But Sandy suggests to Annabelle that there are always little ways to help out with domestic tasks, but she will leave that to Annabelle’s initiative.
Aaah, having a teenage character traverse challenges is actually quite tricky. Her love interest cannot do anything while she is so young. Her adult friends have to remain respectful of her parents and not put Annabelle in a vulnerable position by supplying her with money or flashy gifts.
I think it is especially because of the Safeguarding training I have had to do (spending hours learning about County Lines and Online Sexual Exploitation involving teenagers has made it hard to work out a credible explanation for how Annabelle can enjoy the friendships with her colder friends without raising concern with her parents).
So…I am sorry I have fallen behind with developments for Annabelle – but I need to work out the journey this fourteen school girl takes to become the partner of rock legend Dean Mathers. A teenage protagonist is not an easy subject!!!