“Turn the lights off when you leave a room!” shouted Mum.
“I did!” shouted Matty. (It might have been Marvin, it’s hard to tell with twins).
“You did NOT!” replied Mum, storming up the stairs and into their room. Then everyone was shouting at once and getting louder and louder, until the boys were crying and Mum stormed into her room and slammed the door.
I went into the boys’ room and gave them a cuddle until they stopped crying.
“What’s wrong with Mummy?” said Matty. “I don’t like it when she shouts.”
“I don’t know,” I said. “I’ll go and find out.” It was unusual for Mum to shout so much.
Mum opened her door before I knocked. Her eyes were red, but she didn’t look angry. She looked sad. “Come on, big girl, let’s go and check on those boys.”
We all snuggled up under the duvet on Marvin’s bunk. It was a bit of a squash, but it felt cosy. “I’m so sorry I shouted at you boys,” Mum said. “I was wrong to do that. But we have to be careful about turning lights off when we don’t need them. Electricity is expensive, and we can’t afford to waste it.”
Matty and Marvin both nodded seriously and then started talking about what to have for tea. I kept thinking about what Mum said. I’ve heard on the news that bills for gas and electricity are going up all the time, and I know that Mum is worried about money. People on the radio sound really angry about it. I thought about Mrs Khan next door. She’s very poor and sometimes Mum helps her out by bringing her a few treats. I wondered if she would be able to pay her bills to keep warm when it gets really cold?
I asked Mum about my worries and she hugged me very tight and said she was proud of me for being so thoughtful. She said that this winter might be hard for a lot of people, especially older people. She suggested we pop in and see Mrs Khan after school tomorrow to check on her. She promised we would make sure Mrs Khan is warm this winter, one way or another.
I felt a lot better after talking with Mum. Now I’m writing an article for the school newspaper about looking out for people who might be struggling to stay warm in the winter.
How do you feel when you know your parents are having money worries? What do you think we can do to help people to stay warm?