>My Almost Little Boy…
Back in April, I briefly mentioned a little boy that used to be in my class. He started out at the Center in the Toddler Room, then moved to the Little Two’s Room. While in that classroom, we learned of his unfortunate circumstances. His mother was an addict. There would be days when he wouldn’t get food. When she would manage to bring him to school, his teachers would ask if he’d had breakfast. She would off-handedly say he’d had some pizza from yesterday or some cold spaghetti. We found out that he’d go and find what food he ate. He was sick all the time and barely had clothes, much less clean ones.
His grandmother, his mother’s mom, called DSS. She’d had enough. Though it was a long, painful process, we all celebrated when she was finally awarded full legal custody. He came to school clean, fed, healthy and smiling. By this time, he’d been in my room for months. Grandmother still had concerns. Serious ones. She’d had cancer and was in remission. I don’t remember who came to me about the idea of adopting him. I just know that I’ve always loved him and even talked to my husband about the idea. (This was before Grandma was awarded custody) At that time, though, we lived in a one bedroom apartment, literally had no money and only one car that was reliable. Honey had just gotten a job after our layoff and two years of school. We were barely supporting ourselves, so we just kind of waited….
In the meantime, the boy grew. He became a happy child, a fraction of the behavior issues were seen. And he grew to love me as much as I loved him. Before he left my room to go to the Three Year Old Room, we learned that a cousin, who lives a couple hours away, wanted him. It broke my heart, but I was glad and I knew that it was for the best, for lots of reasons. Not the least of which was a continued connection to his family and his uncle-his mother’s younger brother. This uncle would come and pick him up and go to the movies, the park, and everywhere else you could think of. Once, he sat in the sandbox and played with his nephew for nearly an hour. Wow. How many guys in their twenty’s will do that?
When he graduated, I worried. Would he do okay in school? Would he make friends? Would his teachers be patient with him and love him? Would his grandmother be okay? Either right around graduation time, or shortly thereafter, we learned that Grandmother’s cancer was out of remission. And I didn’t get to see her again until April, at the Center Celebration. I heard a tiny voice say my name. I turned around and there was my little boy. We stood for a few seconds, looking at each other, then he jumped into my arms, which was perfect because I didn’t want him to see me cry. Grandmother said he’d wanted to come and see me. She didn’t look too well. We talked a few minutes, then he wanted to go play some more games and she was tired.
I saw my little boy today. It was at his grandmother’s memorial service. We learned Tuesday (we were off Monday) that she had been in the hospital over the holiday and had passed away. None of us were okay. We’d been through so much together. Director and Assistant stood in our classrooms so Co-Teacher and I, as well as former Co-Teacher, could go pay our respects. (Our Center is in a church and she had been a member) There was a line out the door. Director said it didn’t matter, however long it took….I saw him through the double doors of the gym (reception area). I sucked it up…I had a classroom full of kids I had to go back to and they’d be upset if they saw Co-Teacher and I crying. He saw some of us (by then, two more teachers were in the line) and began walking around, getting hugs. He kept looking at me, but going elsewhere…
Finally, he came and stood before me. He just stood there and looked at me, then he reached for me and I picked him up and we hugged. He laid his head on my shoulder, not intending to get down soon. People looked. I sucked it up some more. He’s only six-so he really doesn’t understand the enormity of what’s going on around him. After a several moments, he wanted down. He wanted to show me his tattoo (a cute press on tattoo of a puppy). Then he went for a snack. The line moved. It moved some more. He came back for hugs from all the teachers, always saving me for last….
We got to the family and there was Great Grandmother. She’s a feisty, tough old bird (said with great respect). We hugged. We moved and shook hands. There was his real mom. Word is that she’s straight now. I hope so. Word is that she’s been mending ties. I hope she mended ties with her mom…Word is, she’ll never be the ‘mommy’-she ruined that for him and the whole family. Hopefully, she will find a way to be his friend….
It was strange as all this was going through my head, and I was standing almost in front of her, my little boy ran back over to me, wanting more hugs. Again, he just put his head on my shoulder. I have no idea what ran through his real mom’s mind…I just walked away from everyone with him….He took me to his uncle’s girlfriend-she seems really nice and he really seems to like her (happy for uncle!).
It was time to go. One day, it’s going to hit him about losing his grandmother. For so long, she was the only stable thing in his little life. She loved him dearly and had to make some really hard, heart wrenching decisions. I’m glad to know that he has family that really loves him and will give him the chance at a good life he (and all children) deserves. He hugged me once more before we left…..I hope to see him again soon, under happier circumstances….