Thursday, August 4, 2011
The Little Boy
Meet the little boy.
Two and a half years after this picture was taken, his parents divorced. They moved in with the soon-to-be stepfather, who was soon transferred to another job in Las Vegas, Nevada. They were living in Northern California at the time. Shortly after that, his mother and the soon-to-be stepfather were married, and the stepfather wanted to take his new family to meet his old family, so off they moved to yet another state. This time it was South Dakota. And all of this was by the end of first grade.
The little boy spent the next two years in Sioux Falls before returning to California. In all this time even though he heard little from his father, his mother never once said an unkind word about his father. In fact, she often encouraged her sons (she had two boys with this man) to write him. Sometimes his father wrote back. The little boy didn't get to see his father again until they returned to California when the little boy was in fourth grade. From then on it was infrequent visits, letters, phone calls, any communication. (Remember, this was back before first graders had their own cell phones!)
Once back in California, the moving continued. The little boy didn't have two continuous years in the same school until he went from sixth grade to seventh; but after four years of stability in one community, the moving started again and continued through his high school years, with the little boy attending three high schools in two states, California to Colorado and back to California.
The little boy had very fond memories of his father and carried a torch for him. The stepfather just couldn't fill his father's shoes. But the absence of communication began to take its toll. The torch was flickering.
The stepfather did the best he could in raising the family, and the little boy truly believed it. The stepfather said he loved the family, and the little boy believed him as a little boy would. The stepfather was not the most nurturing individual and the little boy never grew to like the stepfather. And, when a young child realizes that some of an adult's ideas are just plain wrong, then something is wrong. The stepfather was racist and sexist. Never in a violent shouting way, he just expressed his ideas quietly, clearly and directly. Every year, on the first day of school, he would ask the same question. "How many black students are in your class? How many Mexicans?" The family usually lived in a predominately white area, so there were usually one or two of either group, if even that many. The little boy never understood what difference it made but always answered.
The stepfather also believed he was the voice of the family. His opinions were the opinions of the family and actually said so. The little boy let him think what he wanted, but had his own opinions, always contradictory to the stepfather's, but the little boy kept them to himself out of fear of the stepfather's anger. He never struck the children, for now there were three, but the little boy could sense the possibility of it.
Behind the scenes, the mother told her children not to pay any attention to the stepfather's ideas, she was not raised that way, and she wanted her children to believe that all people were equal.
What happened to the little boy? He grew up. He grew up to become a man who believes all people are created equal. He grew up to become a man who realizes circumstances are not always what they seem. For he later found out, his mother was not the quickest in always letting his father know where the family was. The little boy grew up to become a man who realizes pain is a part of growth and with growth there is strength. The little boy grew up to become a man who realizes that people do leave; and if they do, it will hurt, but in time the little boy will heal and make new friends. The little boy grew up to become a man who realizes that some people don't choose to leave the little boy, but to leave this world. And it is natural, but it still hurts. The little boy grew up to become a man who realizes that if people choose to leave the little boy, it is not because of something the little boy did. There is nothing wrong with the little boy.
The little boy grew up to write this blog.