The Harsh Reality For One Teen

 

IMG_2084An 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! 🙂

 

 


Quitting is not an option

Emphatically blinking to hold back the tears, her aged but youthful eyes spoke for her. In a moment though, her glossed over and molten eyes released the flow of tears that stained her flawless almond colored skin.

Three years senior my daughter, this young woman is experiencing the harsh realities of life. Life as a single mother of a three-year old. Life as a daughter to a mother who has grown tired of mothering. Life as a role model for her younger sister, whose same mother has grown tired of mothering her too. Life as a divorced mother, who is uncertain about the future.

I listened attentively. She thanked me for sharing my story at the luncheon. Even better, she tells me that she had felt discouraged, but the speakers at the luncheon influenced her to believe that quitting is not an option. In spite of her situation, she attends college and is working hard to carve a better future for herself, her child and her baby sister. Her journey is one of challenge, but I’m convinced that she can overcome and continue to move forward. Quitting is not an option was the topic of today’s luncheon.

When things go wrong as they sometimes will,
When the road you’ve trudging seems uphill,
When the funds are low and the debts are high,
And you want to smile,
but you have to sigh,

When your care is pressing you down a bit,

Rest if you must, but don’t you quit.

Someone whom I admire and have a great deal of respect for asked me to speak to a wonderful group of young ladies today. Young ladies that have been erroneously written off as failures, although I disagree! They are smart, creative, witty, strong-willed, determined, and rebellious but they are genuinely trying to see their way through dim clouds to a brighter future. They simply need nurturing, support, guidance, positive influences from patient women and adults who won’t quit on them.

Life is queer with its twists and turns,
As every one of us sometimes learns,

And many a failure turns about,

When he might have won had he stuck it out;

Don’t give up though the pace seems slow,

You may succeed with another blow.

Earlier in the day I was also inspired and emotionally struck by a conversation that I had with an extraordinary recent college graduate. Why extraordinary? For nearly four years, he fought, what seemed like an endless battle that most adults would have given up on.

As a young child, he came to the U.S. (undocumented) with his mother. He attended the public school system. He was raised by a single mother of two boys who earned modest wages. Most challenging? Peer pressure, the absence of his father, and the unsettling and dangerous community where he lived.

In spite of the obstacles and roadblocks, he sustained and ultimately acquired citizenship and graduated college. During college continued to work through obstacles, however he participated in many social and political groups and helped to raise $1,000,000 for his University! I am so proud of him. He accomplished what many said was impossible. Quitting was not an option for him.

Success is failure turned inside out.
The silver tint of the clouds of doubt,
And you never can tell how close you are,
It may be near when is seems so far;
So stick to the fight when you’re hardest hit,
It’s when things seem worse,
that you must not quick.

Be inspired and do encourage others. Regardless of what ever it is that you’re moving toward, remember that quitting is not an option!

Happy Valentine’s Day!