Wednesday, June 23, 2004

The Lonely Child (Part I)

I have often heard my mother say, “She doesn’t love her children anymore than I love mine.” Is that true? How can one equate love? It is but an emotion. Is it self-righteous to assume that you can love more or better than someone else? What is love? Elusive definitions. The lonely child lives next door. T.L.C., ironic isn’t it? My home is very small, less than a 1000 square feet. When you walk in the front door you are in a living room. To the right is the kitchen. Straight ahead at the end of the house is Hyper-Boy’s room, to the left is the bathroom. To the right is my room. Before my room is the computer room/laundry room/3rd bedroom/junk room. The living room is large, which suits me. When T.L.C. comes over I stick my head out of the computer room (We really call it the Control Room because this is where the Woman in Charge hangs out) and I can smell him from across the room. He smells of male cat piss, crap and rottenness. He is 9 years old. He will be 10 in August. He’s cute although overweight. He’s very good at video games and loves to sing. He’s very selfish because he’s an only child and his mother believes that because he’s an only child he should be selfish. Its just how only children are. Bullshit. (Here come the comparisons) My son is not an only child. His father has two other children from his two marriages. His brother, S.W., is 16 and his sister, A.W., is 11. They live with their mothers. Hyper-Boy and A.W. see each other every other weekend and sometimes she and her mom come to visit us or we go visit them or I pick up A.W. at her grandparents house on the weekend when the kids are not together. (That’s a whole nother story) But, for the most part, Hyper-Boy is an only child. I do not allow him to be selfish. I do not allow him to blackmail other children to get his way. T.L.C. used to be good at this. He would tell Hyper-Boy he was going home unless X, Y or Z was not done. Hyper-Boy always gave in. Sometimes this worked, sometimes it didn’t and if didn’t Hyper-Boy would come crying to me. It broke my heart and I asked him again and again, “why do you let him do that to you?” “Because I want someone to play with.” Good answer, same answer, over and over. So, I finally shut up. One day I heard the same ole, same ole start. I heard T.L.C. say, “Fine, I’ll just go home then.” I heard Hyper-Boy say, “Fine, go home then.” I pumped my fist in the air in silent jubilation. Hyper-Boy comes into the Control Room and asks, “why does T.L.C. have to be such a butt?” How do I explain a child that receives no guidance nor attention? T.L.C.’s mother leaves very early for work so his dad wakes him up in the morning. T.L.C. gets dressed and ready for school. No one tells him to have a good day, kisses him goodbye or tells him that they love him. If he rides to school with me and Hyper-Boy I tell him to have a good day. He comes home to an empty house. Now that its summer, he stays home alone although he wants to go to his old babysitter’s. His parents say they can’t afford it. They can afford to drink and party but not hire a babysitter. They make roughly twice what I do and have roughly the same bills. I can afford it. His mom has told me she never wanted children. He was standing in front of her at the time. She equates this by saying, “but I love the one I got.” Okay, can we just stick to the “I love the one I got”? His grades are abysmal. I know this because he left his report card at my house. His mother complains because the school wants her to work with him at home. She says it is their job to teach him, not hers. Obviously. I interject as best as I can the importance of being involved and helping where we can. “Its not my job,” she says. T.L.C. gets angry because Hyper-Boy can read better than he can. He got angry (jealous?) because Hyper-Boy went on a special field trip because he had gotten his Accelerated Reader points. He told Hyper-Boy to stop bragging. “Its not nice to brag about stuff when other people don’t get to do it.” I told him, gently, that Hyper-Boy was not bragging, he was merely relating his day. Hyper-Boy was not saying, “Ha ha haha ha, I got to go and you didn’t.” I would have knocked out that loose tooth he has for that. He was just excited about what had happened. Later, I told Hyper-Boy, who has enough trouble at school that I’m thrilled when he gets kudos for his work, that he had every right to be proud because he had worked hard. He had every right to talk about his accomplishment.
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