I was at Lucas' middle school today and I saw a couple I haven't seen in a while. They moved to Richmond about three years ago and when they first moved in I was excited for them and for us. They have two boys who are the same ages as my boys and they have an adopted daughter. I was looking forward to getting to know the family. I thought I saw a lot of similarities between us. My feelings changed as I saw the behavior of the son who is Lucas' age ~ I will call him "Kevin". "Kevin's" behavior from the beginning was a little off and it soon alienated the family from the rest of the neighborhood.
Lucas tried hard to befriend "Kevin" but it was an impossible task. He is an emotionally imbalanced child. The last time Lucas was at his house "Kevin" whipped his brother with a cord to the X-Box because he wanted to play with it and his brother wouldn't let him. The parents stepped in to stop his behavior and sent Lucas home. As Lucas was trying to leave "Kevin" took Lucas' bike and threw it into his mom's car. He was in a rage. Lucas came home, wide eyed and terrified. He had never witnessed behavior like that before. I grilled him to make sure he didn't do anything to provoke this behavior. He swore he hadn't. I believed Lucas because I have seen this child act out at our neighborhood parties. His nickname in our house was "Crazy Kevin" before this happened, afterward the nickname ceased to be a nickname and became how we felt about him. He is disturbed and, I think, a little crazy. That was the last time Lucas tried to be friends with "Kevin."
"Kevin" finished out elementary school in and out of the principal's office. He was kicked off of the bus and his behavior was talked about extensively between the kids, parents and teachers. "Kevin" is uncontrollable. The last time Lucas left "Kevin's" house he had the courage to ask "Kevin's" parents why he acts this way. The parents told Lucas "Kevin's" medication makes him act crazy. Lucas, with all of the innocence of a child asked, "If it makes him crazy why would you give him that medicine?" I am not sure there is any right answer for Lucas' question. I have never walked a mile in their shoes so I have no idea what demons they are battling with "Kevin" and his medication but the demons must be pretty large because I believe "Kevin" has gone on to inflict the middle school with the same behavior he exhibited in elementary school.
The parents were sitting, waiting in the office as I was dropping a pie off for Lucas at school today. The mom didn't want me to see her sitting there. She put her head down and put her hair in front of her face. I have thought many times in the past years how horrible it must be to raise a child no one wants to befriend and is completely out of control. But today when I saw her put her hair over her face to hide from me, my heart ached for her a little. I can not imagine the extreme loneliness she must feel. They moved to Richmond and her son's behavior cut her off from any hope of finding friends in our neighborhood. My feelings are conflicted. I know she must be in her own private Hell but at the same time I feel I need to protect my children. The behavior "Kevin" exhibits is beyond all comprehension. So what do you do when you know in your heart someone is lonely and hurting but also know the risks associated with that person? How do you reconcile those feelings? Compassion versuses protection. Seeing them in the office made me realize I am at a complete loss.
I don't know what the answer is. I don't know if there is a good answer. Lucas and I talk about "Kevin" and how his behavior is out of the realm of normalcy but we also talk about making sure to never be cruel to him. I tell him to stay away and that is where Lucas wants to be ~ away. But is that cruel, to teach your children to stay away from those who present risks? Again, I don't know what the answer is. I will keep their family in my prayers, always, but the love of my children leads me to protect them.