We had an impromptu visit last night from one of Kurt’s friends. This boy’s last impromptu visit was on Christmas Day, and this impromptu visit was to apologise for it.
This friend of Kurt’s is a bird with broken wings who makes my heart bleed at an haemophiliac rate. He bought with him a bottle of my favourite wine, upon Kurt’s direction -(Scarborough, for those of you that still don’t know). He told us it was to serve as a belated apology for his behavior on Christmas Day, when he got shit-faced with people that weren’t his immediate family, because his immediate family didn’t want to be with him.
He is eighteen.
He is a damaged soul who admits that he has done some ‘bad stuff’ in the past, and although his presence can be emotionally exhausting and certainly damaging to the liver, you know that being there with him, providing an ear to listen to him, is so important that even missing I’m A Celebrity and drinking copiously on a Wednesday night becomes insignificant.
I’ve always had a vulnerability, some in-built empathy for damaged goods and although I have yet to meet this boy when he is sober, what I really want to do is give him a massive bear hug and tell him that everything will be all right – even though I don’t know if it will – if we were at that position in our friendship where he fully trusted us and saw us as some kind of surrogate family.
We’re working on it. He appears more and more frequently at our apartment, and usually out of the blue.
His enforced maturity has meant that he has become a mentor of sorts to Kurt. Although they are the same age, this kid has been through the proverbial mill, unlike our son. Rejected by his parents for what I assume must be far worse behaviours than we’ve ever experienced with our son, it appears that his parents could no longer cope. Gave up on him. I pass no judgment, for there have been several times over the past few years that we have come a hair-width away from asking Kurt to leave, even though we never believed we would ever reach that point as parents when he first came into our world.
And after all, we’ve only heard this boy’s side of his story. And I know what it’s like to raise a troubled teenager like Kurt, whose personality demands challenge every parental idealism you had in place since their birth, shred your emotions and make you question every facet of your integrity on a daily basis.
And you often step so close to that line of ‘have I had enough?’, ‘is this the point where I have to disregard unconditional love for my sanity, or my relationship, or their sibling’s life?’
And it can be really scary…
And I’m sure none of you will ever reach this point with your kids, thank God.
Because when you witness the fucked up end-result of the kid whose parents reached rock bottom and had to make that terrible decision to give up – and in truth I can’t blame them – all your natural instincts scream to parent that kid, mend his wings, build him up and help him fly again. When you witness the searing pain, the damage and the mistrust in the man-child that rejection has caused, it reminds you that parenting is unconditional, and sometimes we have to adapt our expectations to the needs of our children, because we are family, and family sticks together.