Storytime helped Timothy repair his relationship with his sons
Timothy had been in custody at Clarence Correctional Centre for eight months when he joined the Storytime program. It was his first time in custody and he was really struggling with missing out on major milestones in his two young son’s lives and was feeling ashamed and unsure about how to talk with them. This is his story.
“I work in metal fabrication at the prison and a group of us men all did Storytime together. We were talking about Storytime after the program and about how much it affected us. It helped me connect with my kids as it gets hard to know what to talk about when you become incarcerated. This is my first time in prison, you are all caught up focusing on yourself and trying to cope. You feel shame and don’t know how to talk to your kids any more. I’ve missed so much in 8 months, their first day at high school, their birthdays, Christmas, first win at soccer, Anzac day – I always marched with my boys and the scouts. I was feeling real bad about myself as a dad and was avoiding talking on the phone as I was a bit down.
I got to write a book about my son’s toy Pterodactyl and him being a hero saving his dad from a T-rex. I rang my boy up after the first session and asked him to make up names for his three dinosaurs. He started really getting into it and would look forward to a phone call so we could discuss what happens next. I stayed up till midnight trying to get all the ideas into a story format. My son’s reaction to the books was incredible. When he opened the parcel he put the book I wrote him under his pillow that night and took it to school the next day. I felt so proud. It lifted me it really did.
I rang up my kids again a week after they got the books and recordings and I could hear this man’s voice in the background and I said, ‘who is this man in the house, I can hear him talking?’ My wife said, ‘That’s you! The kids have had your voice recording on repeat all day and just want to hear your voice again and again. They want to make photocopies of it for all their friends.’
Since doing Storytime things have changed. Now we have something we can relate to together and now I read to my kids every night and we talk about the books SHINE sent. Even my 12 year old boy is telling me about the book I chose for him.
They have started writing to me after Storytime (they never wrote much before) and I write straight back. It’s made me feel valued as a parent again – I can’t wait to be with my kids when I get out. I can’t explain how much it has impacted on us. I wish every parent got to do Storytime. It made me feel like being a parent again. It’s made me realise that I never want to be away from my kids ever again.”