An upright small black suitcase on wheels stands on the curb. Next to it are two large and nearly filled plastic bags with orange shoe boxes inside. Easily identifiable is the Nike brand logo. A tethered book bag and a few other loose items perched on the blacktop.
Young, athletic looking, lean, and flawless nearly onyx colored skin, Jay moves from the rays of Georgia’s blazing summer’s heat and into the shade under a large crape myrtle.
He’s been sitting curbside for a few hours. Jokingly my daughter says, invite him in to stay over, but that’s not an option. Seriously my cup runneth over with a house of five multi-generational people, but still, my heart is never full.
I saw Jay at the end of my five-mile morning walk. After showering, polishing my toenails, moisturizing my locs, and snacking, he still lingered in the parking lot in front of the community clubhouse.
Now my heart softens for him. Without even talking to Jay, I figured out what most likely happened. He had “the look.”
The look of a bewildered teen who thought he knew but begins to realize he isn’t nearly as smart as he thought.
The look of a dejected youth attempting to pilot unknown territory.
The look of a juvenile who is facing the harsh reality of his consequences.
The look of an astonished adolescent who can’t believe his parents put him out.
The look of fear and not knowing what to do next.
Since the temperature was well over 90 degrees outside, I decided to offer him a bottle of cold water. Hubby walked over with me. I told Jay that I noticed he’d been sitting in front of the clubhouse for a few hours and asked if he wanted the water.
Graciously he thanked me and accepted the water. After a few minutes, hubby left us, and we talked. He was comfortable talking to me. I asked, “So, what’s the story? Why are you out here?”
The day before was Jay’s 19th birthday. To protect his privacy, I call him Jay. He decided to stay out all night. It seems, Jay’s decision was the final straw for his parents. This morning, when he arrived home, as expected, all hell broke loose.
“He wants to see me fail,” is what, Jay said. The 19-year-old lives at home with his mom, dad, and younger sibling. He says his dad could have waited until Thursday to kick him out, but he did it today. Thursday is payday. Thursday would have been more convenient. Jay is learning that bad things typically occur at the most inconvenient time. I also sensed the tension was between Jay and his father. All of Jay’s comments were preferenced by “he.” No comments referenced his mother.
There are no perfect words but having been on both sides of the fence, I understood. I listened to Jay’s story and gave him my perspective.
I told him that without ever meeting or talking to his parents, I suspected the situation was a culmination of events. He shrugged his head in agreement, smiled just enough to show his pretty white teeth, and began to tell me more.
I tried to encourage him, as well as, give him realistic advice and without a preachy tone. I told him my story of being kicked out of my mom’s house many years ago. To provide him with hope, I explained that my mother now lives with me. The look on his face was priceless! I also wanted him to know that his situation is temporary and that it is possible for him to improve his relationship with his parents.
I suggested that when he speaks to his parents, that he show up humble. Apologize with sincerity. Avoid making excuses. Own his choices and mistakes. Only listen and don’t talk back. His body language and the slight shake of head told me that he wasn’t ready for that type of conversation. I hope he gets there…sooner than later.
He planned to stay the night at a hotel and would figure things out later. I hope that 24 hours later, his perspective changes. I told Jay I would pray for him and his family; he gave me a fist pump and thanked me.
Jay’s story isn’t unique. His situation is a reminder of the ongoing impediments we face raising children. But also the challenges and pressures teens face. No two stories are the same, but every family faces some challenges.
Reflecting on Jay’s situation, my thoughts are:
- Kindness is free and so is caring, we must practice as often as possible.
- When we become so immersed in our own lives, we often fail to notice the people, places, and objects around us. We miss seeing the sad colleague, the depressed child, the ill parent, or someone else who is down and out.
- We must consciously see, hear, smell, taste, and touch. When we fully engage all five senses, we are cognizant of our surroundings and are more inclined to notice unusual circumstances.
- To judge others is often instinctive. However, when we see a situation that is seemingly odd, instead of judging the person or thinking of oneself, offer a listening ear, a kind gesture, or at least acknowledge the persons struggle. I am not naive and understand the concern for safety. I remember a story from my amazing and generous bestie. While driving alone on the busy Garden State Parkway, she noticed a car with a woman, whom she did not know, in distress on the shoulder of the road. Many cars passed the lady, but my friend empathized with the stranger and stopped to help her. 🙂
A few days have passed since I met Jay. I haven’t seen him and hope and pray that his situation has improved.
I share this story to emphasize what conscious living looks like but also to encourage you to stay present. It takes work.
There was a time in my life when I would not have noticed Jay. Even worse I am ashamed to say; there was a period in my life when I would have seen Jay and jumped to all kinds of false and unfavorable conclusions about him. Lack of exposure, fear, and an idiosyncratic attitude can hold you hostage to impaired thinking.
The current climate in this country of divisiveness, name calling, hatred, and lack of acceptance of people who are different or have opposing views, is disturbing. That’s why it is critical that we live moment-to-moment (mindfully) and engage in kindness and compassionate toward one another. We cannot achieve complete wellness without consideration for others.
Love and kindness are never wasted.
They always make a difference.
They bless the one who receives them,
and they bless you, the giver.
-Barbara De Angelis
Thanks for visiting! 🙂
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