On Monday "JR" will turn 18.
That means he can't be in our shelter anymore.
This particular boy holds a special place in my heart-
my boss said to me "you always like the underdogs, huh?"
...I guess it's true--It's the very small amount of mothering instinct that I possess.
I did JR's intake paperwork. I thought to myself, "this boy is pretty calm"....
Day 2: I arrive and it's like someone gave him a triple dose of HYPER!!
Now don't get me wrong, "JR" is not always a bad kid. In fact, when he wants to he can be quite charming. He holds no grudges. He laughs a lot. ...BUT, from that day on his point card was covered with negative points for hitting peers, jumping over furniture, throwing a globe at at teacher at school, calling names, bad table manners, you name it-he's done it.
Enter: family teaching model. Now this is definitely a trial and error process for me, but this is how we aspire to teach life-skills to the boys who are sent to us. It's basically feedback to appropriate and inappropriate behavior.
We've had talks--Me and JR--about...well, lots of things. But mostly about how violence is not an appropriate solution to problems, how God is the one who gives us the strength to change into men and women of character, and how character is so important. Honesty, Integrity, all of those things.
And now...he's leaving. Ugh. Not fair. Not yet. I feel like there's so much more I need to say, to show, to do.
This particular boy came from a very rough background. No parents. Ran around as part of a street gang with a very big gun. 'Though he said he never killed anyone, he just riled everyone up. He swore to me that he'd never return to that life. And while I want to believe him, I know that I'm just me. An American girl working at a shelter he was in for 2 months in Texas. So what?
This is the hard part: I hand it over to God. I'm no fool, I know that in me, there is no power to change a person. That responsibility rests solely with The King of the Universe. And he cares about JR a lot more than I do, and wants the best for him even more than I do.
So why do I write all of this? I don't know... it's therapeutic. But I hope maybe in reading this, you'll send up a prayer for "JR". And the 450 other ones who have already passed through the shelter within the past two years since the program opened with similar stories.
And here's how he's changed. Now dinner time is much more pleasant. JR doesn't talk the whole time and actually finishes the same time as everyone else. He even serves me sometimes. He earns a fraction of the negative points from before. He is still his boisterous self, but channels it into a hardcore soccer game, or intense arm wrestling match, or ...karaoke night.