My People

My People
My matched set of grandchildren - Oliver and Cosette

Friday, November 7, 2008

skinned alive: one 14 year old boy

Austin's lack of judgement knows no bounds.

He wanted to spend the night with his friend. The boy seems nice enough... lives in our neighborhood... and so forth. He asked for money to go buy snacks. I didn't have any cash. I offered to run to the store and they both said they'd be ok without them.

A half hour later Austin showed back up and asked if he could have my ATM card to go get snacks. I agreed. (who is lacking judgement? me, I guess) I told him to get $40 out at the ATM and he could spend $10 on snacks for he and his friend. His friend's stepfather was driving them to the store which is... maybe 3 miles away.

I had a funny feeling about things. I called Austin to remind him of his instructions. He didn't answer. I texted him. He didn't respond. Finally after about another half hour he came back with my ATM card and $8.

"Where is the rest of the money?"
"I had to pay for gas and the snacks were $20".

Had to pay for gas. Hmmm. Wait a minute.

He had already zoomed back out the door to go to his friend's house. I started calling him again. Four calls. Four text messages before he answers.

"what do you mean you had to pay for gas?"
"well... his stepdad was on empty so he wouldn't take us unless we could pay for gas".
"you mean the adult who was responsible for this child would not take him anywhere unless his GUEST had money to pay him for gas?"

I told Austin to come back home immediately. I have no intention of allowing him to build friendships where I am responsible for funding all their activities. I would if I could but I can't... I just don't have the money. I am appalled that an adult would require that of a child. I can't for the life of me imagine asking one of my kids' friends to pay for my gas... regardless of how limited my funds were. If I couldn't afford the gas to take them somewhere, I just wouldn't take them.

Honestly... I would have rather taken them myself if that was the deal. I wasn't presented with the requirements until my money was already gone. I was already paying for the snacks. And I understand that the economic conditions here are more limited... but not to the extent that I would extort money from a child. The store was maybe 3 miles away... that justified 5 gallons of gas? I feel like I was robbed.

When Austin got home I told him we couldn't afford friendships with people like that. Since he doesn't have the good judgement to understand what's right and wrong in those situations, I can't risk having him exposed to that sort of thing. His friend came up to check on him and apologize... but not to return the money... because his stepfather doesn't have money. Austin told him he couldn't be friends with him...

And then I heard Austin sobbing loudly in his room. I called him back in my room to talk to him about having to have judgement that is strong enough to outweigh any bad judgement around him. I told him that if a neighbor of ours was in need and asked me for ten dollars for gas, I would almost always give it without question... but that the way the money was taken was wrong. I told him to think about whether or not he can carry the weight of judgement for himself and those around him... and if he can take that responsibility, then we have more leeway with who he can be friends with.

But here is a 15 year old boy who is responsible for his two year old sister.... whose stepfather extorts money from a 14 year old boy in the act of doing what I consider any parent's reasonable act of responsibility. I have severe concerns about what kind of people they are... and I know that my son doesn't have the wisdom to do the right thing in every situation.... and I have to keep him out of situations where his poor judgement and the lack of parental supervision will lead to bad consequences. Like spending my grocery money on a Friday night party that I couldn't afford to give.


*Tracy* said...

i think you deffiently did the right thing! have a good weekend. hugs

Maire said...

You were absolutely right, and the way you explained it was terrific. Austin won't probably see the wisdom in this now, but it will definately become part of his good judgement and character later on! Have a great weekend

Nancy said...

The nerve, huh?? I hope you get the opportunity to talk directly to the step-father. Maybe he needs a lesson in using good judgement as well!

Myra said...

Perhaps having a word with the step-dad? But only if you think he is open, if not, don't put yourself in that position. He may not think it was wrong at all! All you can do is guide, and talk to Austin. Maybe it'll sink in, maybe it won't. All you can do it try.

Big Mark 243 said...

Like most people, I am prone to letting things others say about themselves become an epsiode that was similar in my life.

I am the eldest of a single Mother. She also couldn't afford to do what you were caught up in. One thing, it isn't the friend's fault, it is the skanky adult's. There will be enough cigarettes, hassling of girls, skipping school, and general messing around to find out if his FRIEND is indeed the problem.

Let him hang, but set limits. Times and call checks. We know that the STEPFATHER (ooh, that is such a give away ... where is his interests in? like this comment, people act according to their own self interest.)is a louse. So bring the friend to your house, let your son be a host to him.

To take him completely away says something not cool to YOUR BOY. You are telling him that you don't trust him, and that he has poor judgement. Sure he does now, because he is a teen and HE HASN'T HAD TO MAKE THESE CHOICES. Guide him, to hamstring him. Let him learn to develop this instincts.

Finally, that was SUCH a bad idea, to give him your ATM. DO YOU KNOW THE STEPPARENT? I wouldn't have let that happen if KT or Lexxie were off with my SISTER'S let alone someone's Step or 'adult brother', if I didn't have a relationship with them.

Whew ... this took a piece out of me. Hope I gave some good advice!

Estela said...

well.. I think you learned something from this as well. Never give your ATM card unless you are going to be right there to collect the money back. OR.. speak directly to the adult about exactly what your expectation is of the situation. I know that our kids need to learn to say no, but at the same time.. this was a new family to you too and you should have been a bit more protective/questioning before you sent Austin out with your ATM card.

Indigo said...

Skye had a friend like this. They always wanted her to go out and do thing with them and invited her along. I'm of the belief if they invited her the intention was they would be covering her. I always without fail sent my kid out with a little something,just in case. I paid for everything when this friend was over as well. It was never cheap. But when the mother would ask Skye to pay for movie rentals that both girls were watching. Or pay half for a pizza that she only ate one slice of. That started to feel weird.

Then Skye told me she always ended up giving the mom, the extra money I gave her toward gas for picking her up and dropping her off. Huh? They were the ones who invited her. That didn't last long. Not to mention they never had a time line. I liked to know when she would be coming home, or they were expected to pick her up.

Your intincts are right on here hon. (Hugs)Indigo

Peaceful Epiphany said...

I think you definitely learned a lesson here. Both you and Autin did. HOWEVER...there is more room to grow from all of this. Everyone is talking about the stepfather. Okay, yeah, he seems like scum from what he did. I will give everyone THAT.

BUT....I am not sure what kind of
MOM would let her kids go to a strange house where they don't know YOU and let her kids just be free there to babysit a two year old.... and not even call YOU to be sure it's okay, or even introduce herself to YOU beforehand and see if YOU are an okay person, or even what YOUR situation is. LOL Kinda waves a red flag right there about HER character.

I feel so sorry for the kid because I am sure HE needs a friend and it's sad for Austin because HE also needs a friend and by how Austin reacted (sobbing loudly in his room) it sounds like he really liked this kid. Maybe they can be be friends under a little more supervised circumstances for a while. Or at least I would call/meet the mom and find out what HER real deal is ya know???

There may be some BIGGER and BADDER issues there that YOU could figure out and save those kids and that mom from. You know that God has a way of bringing people into our lives in some very funny circumstances. This ATM gas money thing just may have been a catalyst for you to meet this mom, talk to her, and use your gut instincts to figure her out. Myabe this is a good way for you to reach out and maybe help this woman. Ya never know....

It could very well be another HEATHER SOUL JOURNEY....anything is possible!!!