The area around me has been in quite an uproar lately over some local teens getting caught and arrested for committing a series of crimes. As news of the crimes came to light, people surmised just who and what had happened. Some people thought the crime was committed by the homeless. Some folks surmised politicos had a hand in things, and some just shrugged, unsure what to believe. When the news broke that it was teens who had committed the crimes, I think most people were in a bit of shock. It just seemed so ODD that kids had done what these teens were being accused of.
Because some of the kids were 17, and therefor underage, their names were initially withheld from the public. People nearly lost their damned minds about it, demanding names, knowledge, and the harshest sentences possible. I admittedly was disgusted by what they had done, and I too said they needed harsh jail times…to be removed from society. I am a firm believer that some folks just don’t want to help society, they want to hurt it, and they should therefore be removed from it.
Yesterday Facebook was aglow with article after article, comment after comment about what had transpired. The news traveled far and wide. Names had been released. I clicked on an article and read what had transpired. The teens admitted they had gone out in the middle of the night, committed a crime, grabbed some food and gas, and headed home. They told a few people what they had done, and swore those people to secrecy. Silly teens don’t know that people love to talk, and one of their moms came across a snapchat message about the crime, and went to police. I get the impression from the article that she may not have initially known her son was involved. Days later, he was arrested, charged with class A felonies, and she watched helplessly as it became clear her son had just destroyed his own life. The news quoted her outside the courthouse, saying she was “devastated” and apologizing profusely for what her son had done.
I read that article a few times. I was so angry at what these teens had done, but her words bounced around in my head over and over. I put aside my anger for a bit and just let myself mull over this woman’s predicament.
After all, those of us who are parents…we’re winging it. We get no manual. They don’t teach us and give us a test before we have kids. We have a kid and we sort of make it up as we go along. There’s a lot of trial and error. Sometimes we pat ourselves on the back when we get it right, and we cringe when we realize we got something wrong. Parenting is no joke. At the end of the day, most of us do our very best. We try to raise kind, considerate, loving, happy children who will go on to be successful, happy adults. Sometimes it happens the way we plan, and we rejoice. And sometimes, we end up like this mom.
I’d like to think my kids are smart. My son in particular tests out in the top 98th percentile for his grade level for the country. And you know what? He does dumb shit like every other kid his age. Maybe I’m more surprised by it because I know how intellectually smart he is, he gets great grades, and has a superb vocabulary. He also does things that make me look at him and wonder wtf he is doing. It’s part of being a kid. Both kids have moments where I wonder what they are thinking, because they do stupid stuff sometimes. Then I laugh because I’m an adult and sometimes I do really dumb shit too (hello, did you read the post where I tried to jump a car and forgot the simple process of turning a key?). Sometimes, we all make a poor choice or two.
No doubt this mama did her best. There was mention her son was an honors student, had great grades, and had a career path planned out. Yet all those smarts, and he did one of the dumbest things I’ve ever seen. In the process, he threw his entire life away. Forget no prom, no graduation. This kid won’t have a life outside of a jail cell for a long time. He could get life in prison. And with that throwing away of his life, he also threw away every one of his mama’s hopes and dreams.
Every time my kids leave the house on their own or with friends or family, I am aware that a piece of my heart has left the house. Each one carries a part of my heart, and I can’t imagine losing them to prison or death. The thought alone gives me anxiety. The mama side of me wishes I knew the mama of that boy, because I’d be there giving her a hug. While folks call for the harshest sentences for her son, blame her for his actions, and worse, I am left just heartbroken. I am heartbroken for that mama. I am heartbroken for all her hopes and dreams for her baby boy that have been lost. After all, no matter how old they get, they are always our babies in our hearts. I am heartbroken for a life not really yet lived, for a person who hasn’t truly even figured out who they are yet to have made such a life devastating decision.
There is no good in any of it.
I pulled my kids aside and told them all the things. I told them they carry a piece of my heart with them wherever they go, and I need them to protect it by making good choices. I explained good friends sometimes make bad choices, and they need to stand strong and make good choices. I told them how one bad decisions can lead to a string of them, and that they need to break that chain. I explain that while I wish all my lessons I impart, and all the mama love I can give them will keep them safe and raise them properly, that they need to make good choices. A bad choice, especially one like the one this child make, can destroy not only that person’s life, but everyone else’s who loves that child.
I worry about that boy. I worry about his mama too. I’m not sure if his dad is around or not, because they only mentioned the mama. I can’t stop thinking about her pain, and it’s hitting me hard.