Just the night before we were talking about various things, such as driving permits, and high school. I teased him about various topics, and he confessed to not liking certain subjects in school. Its not often that we talk, its not often that he, as an almost 15 year old tells me whats going on inside his head, and for the most part – that’s ok. I gather what I can from others, and hope for the best. And up until a few months ago, I assumed that was ok.
Today I walked into the building where he is staying. A step up from a padded room, and a step down from a jail cell. He hasn’t broken any laws, and hasn’t done anything that anyone else hasn’t already done. But its new grounds for us, and Im not sure exactly where to go. I keep telling myself that one day, in a few years, this will all just be another bump in the rear view mirror. But for right now, it seems like a mountain Im not equipped to climb.
His story varies, depending on who hes talking to. And while I would like to think hes telling me, of all people, the truth – I cant let myself believe that. For his sake. The things hes done have taken him to a whole new level. The level where respect from others is lost, and I have seen first hand how different people have already started to treat him. And it hurts, because I want the best for him.
I don’t know why life has to be so hard for young people, and I don’t know why some seem to escape unharmed. Its been only a day since I had last seen him, but seeing him stand there – caught me off guard. Hes grown up this past year, and Ive been too busy to notice because to me, hes still the wild child who runs through the woods. Hes still the “Middle kid” who doesn’t seek attention, and doesn’t care to be noticed. Hes still the one that is content to build his towers in the corner, and come out only when its time for dinner.
This past year he lost not only his sister but his best friend, when she went to pursue her dreams and needs elsewhere. The one he shared a bunk with, and no matter how angry they were with each other, knew would be there. The one that made things ok when they weren’t. And even though she would get pissed off, he knew she loved him. There wasn’t much more he needed. Everything was ok in his world, and I was oblivious to his needs when she left.
Hes always been ok.
But hes no longer a child, with childish needs. Hes grown. Somehow over the past few days, hes grown even more.
There isn’t ever much say. There never was. We don’t just sit and talk. Its more of an acknowledging of ones presence and moving on. After a few moments of silence he broke the ice with just a few simple words, put into a question.
“Are you disappointed with me?”
I has exactly one second to come up with an appropriate response. A response that would acknowledge everything I wanted to say, in two or less words. A response that would answer his question, and heal his wounds, and bring him back to the right side of the world.
In the one second I had, I flipped through my available answers, knowing that if I waited too long he would sense hesitation. But also knowing that I had one shot at this question, and there would be no going back. No backspace, no erase. The words would be said.
But how does one adequately sum up an answer in one second, with two words? How do I tell him that no…no…and NO. I will never be disappointed with him. I will always love him, no matter what. How do I tell him everything I want, without giving into the sap and mush that is out there? Or do I? Do I fall victim to the side that wants to take him away from everything that will possibly hurt him in this world, or do I teach him to toughen up and learn to bite the bullets sometime.
How do I tell him that he has to be strong, and he cant give up – because giving up is NOT an option here. How do I explain to him that life sucks. Yes. But we have to fight back and not let us suck us down. We cant give in, and we cant give up. Yet how do I tell him all this, with words that will reach him where he is at, and how do I convey it to him with not only words, but tones and actions and everything else needed to get the message across.
How. Do I tell him this without kicking his butt, and telling him to stop being such a dumbass? How do I tell him these things, and not break him completely, but just enough to get him back to where he needs to be, and how far is too far? And when do I just stop thinking and answer him honestly…because hes not a child anymore.
And so I did. With one second to consider my answer, and two words to sum it up with. I shook my head, smiled at him, and told him straight up.
For the first time in the past week, he smiled.
No. Im not disappointed in him, in his choices, maybe. In his actions, and decisions, yes. In his noncompliant behavior, of course. But disappointed in him? There is nothing to be disappointed about. Hes a great kid, with so much potential. And one day, I hope he sees this. I hope he sees past the dark clouds that gloom his vision and he sees that life can suck, but it can be ok too. And one day, I hope he really, truly knows – that no. I am not disappointed with him.