* Follow up

I wanted to follow up my last post with some more thoughts on the situation in my neighborhood, in general, and the situation with K, specifically.

Immediately after I took Rio inside to clean him up, one of the boys came to the window and told me that K's mother had showed up looking for him. I stepped outside to see if she was handy, but I only caught a glimpse of K on the sidewalk out front. Rio was still inside, wailing and bleeding, so I decided to deal with K and his mom later.

Later I became angry, not at K, but at his mother. K didn't mean to hurt Rio, it was an honest accident. When K's mother showed up I'm pretty sure the other kids filled her in on the incident because that's what kids do. Lots of blood impresses young boys and they love to retell that sort of story, especially when they're not culpable:) So I'm angry that she didn't immediately try to find out if Rio was okay and make K apologize. That's what I would have done, at least. And I think that's not too much to ask. Maybe she's afraid of getting sued, and she doesn't know me so she has no reason to believe that I wouldn't. Still, even if I were the litigous type, I think it would have benefitted her defense if she had done either of those things.

But it's a done deal now and Rio is fine and my anger is subsiding. I considered knocking on K's door and asking him to apologize to Rio myself. I think K needs to be taught that that's what you do when you hurt someone, intentionally or not, rather than fleeing the scene. I understand that he was scared, and I also understand that he doesn't have the mental capacity (or maturity) to make those sort of judgments on his own. I went looking for him yesterday, but I stopped short of knocking on his door. Because I'm not really sure what I want to say after I get my apology.

I'm not sure if K will be welcome at our house anymore, and I'm really wrestling with this. It would seem wise to say no, because I just can't supervise him constantly to make sure that he doesn't do something else equally foolish and dangerous as playing badminton with rocks. However, turning him away doesn't feel right either, because when he's not here then no one is paying attention to him at all, and jeez! The poor kid!

So then I wonder if I should call Family Services. I've wondered that before this incident, just because the kid is so obviously neglected. But then I wish I knew more about his mother before I make such a drastic decision. It's entirely possible that she's not around to keep track of K because she has to work two minimum-wage jobs just to make ends meet, and her useless live-in boyfriend is obviously not a reliable babysitter. It's entirely possible that she loves her simple son very much, but she doesn't have the means to pay for special services or after-school care. And it's entirely possible that if Family Services got involved, he would end up in foster care that isn't much better. There are no guarantees. The decision to yank a child from his home and family, however flawed, should not be taken lightly in my opinion.

On the other hand, it is just as possible that his mother could care less. Maybe she resents her son for being slow, and is embarrassed by him. Maybe she's an alcoholic and she drinks away her small income, special services be damned. Maybe she thinks it's just fine for her kid to wander aimlessly around the neighborhood, walking into people's houses uninvited (he's done this a number of times). Maybe she sees him as a burden, and she punishes him harshly for his errant ways. Maybe she's abusive.

Who knows? I wish I did.

I would like to offer to help. I've thought about having K come to our house after school, so he's not on his own. Trouble is, I can't take him with me everywhere I go. On three days of the week Rio and I have somewhere to be after school. It would seem kinda shitty to make K tag along for Rio's Tae Kwon Do class while he sits and watches and can't participate. I sure as hell can't afford to enroll him, and I doubt his mother can. And it would hardly be appropriate to take K along to Rio's counseling sessions, either. My hands are full (and bank account empty) just providing for my own son's needs. And even if I did have more time and money, I would at least try to use those to benefit my stepchildren.

I feel as though I'm forced into a Darwinian stance in which I have to utilize my scarce resources to ensure the well-being of my own family, at the expense of the other families in my neighborhood. And since I suffer somewhat from a Savior Complex, it goes against my grain to just ignore the problems of the people around me, especially when they are children. I have this crazy idea that I should make a difference in their lives. Crazy!

I am processing a lot of ideas right now, and I have a lot more to come on this and related topics. Stay tuned.

3 Comments:

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9/07/2005 9:53 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just a thought...stop by his house and introduce yourself to his Mom. Be open...."just want to say hi, our boys play together...etc." You'll get a feel for her. She may very well be on the defence right now....so set her at ease.....and take it from there.

Also, most public schools have programs for learning challenged children. Even after school programs, at no chg. for low income families. If he is truly limited in his abilities....he may even be on SS disibility. Which opens up a whole avenue of options for the Mom as to care for him.....just my thoughts......Mom

9/07/2005 10:16 AM  
Blogger momma-yaya said...

I've been in similar circumstances with a neighbor boy, being reluctant to have him around at the same time that I felt compelled to take him under my wing. What I've discovered is that I don't have to care for him on a daily basis, but opening myself to him has made an impact on both he and I--and I've discovered more about his life situation that I didn't understand before. And holding him accountable for his behaviors probably has the most positive impact. Neutral delivery is the key to keep it from feeling like a shameful thing. I'd suggest letting this boy know that Rio is okay after the rock incident (he may actually be suffering intense guilt about it), but that you'd appreciate him sticking around, apologizing, and helping care for the wounded if something like that ever happens again. Sometimes kids are just clueless and need help navigating. I DO think you make a difference in his life, just by thinking about him.

9/14/2005 6:48 AM  

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