Tuesday, June 05, 2012
The Lost Boys
What IS it with the kids on this block?
There are four boys on my street who are the same age as Little Brother. I call them the Street Urchins. They wind up here a lot, perhaps because I'm the one who lets them in.
They know that if they play at my house, they've got to play by my rules. Street Urchins who drop the f-bomb in my family room get sent home. That's me, the Mean Mommy.
This morning, I mentioned to TheDad that last night one of the boys' moms had come here looking for him about an hour after his sisters picked him up. That's when he told me that he'd heard there were marital problems in that household, and this boy might be moving soon.
One of the other boys lives with his mom and older siblings. His parents have been on-and-off separated for several years now. His dad, though, stays involved and is a Cub Scout leader.
I don't really know much about the new kid on the block, other than the fact that his parents just opened their second pizzeria. He seems to be on his own quite a bit.
And then there's Adventure Boy, who (like his 3 older siblings) is being raised by his grandparents though his mom lives across town. Sometimes he goes there. Sometimes he spends a few hours with his dad, and his grandmother reports that the custody issues aren't pretty. He's been left to his own devices since he was a preschooler.
A week or so ago, two of these boys knocked on my door at 8:20 on a school night, looking to play with Little Brother. Ten minutes. That's all I gave them. Who lets their kids out at 8:20 on a school night? Who lets their kids disappear after school, never looking for them until they have a baseball game or soccer practice? Who doesn't call their kids home until after 8 (if then)--kids who have been out since 4 or earlier, who haven't been fed dinner, who haven't been nagged about homework?
Sometimes I think I should stop calling them the Street Urchins and refer to them as the Lost Boys.
After yesterday's Cheese Ball Debacle, in which two of the Street Urchins thought it would be fun to toss Utz cheese balls into each other's mouths, and then pulverized the ones that missed--all over my back porch--I was more than a little bit hot under the collar. They come here, make a mess, help themselves to snacks and drinks, make a mess, kick soccer balls at my pool filter and front door, make a mess, and (apparently) never have to go home. And I resent that. A lot.
I plan to come down hard on the Street Urchins next time they show up, about the cheese balls. That is disrespectful to me and to my home, and wasteful of food. If I'd found the mess before they left, they would have been the ones out on the porch with the ShopVac. Instead, it was Little Brother.
But after TheDad mentioned that yet another Street Urchin is dealing with problems at home, my heart melted just a little bit. These kids need what they're not getting at home, I realized. None of them is in a situation of his own making.
I was wondering, the other day, if refusing to buy Johnson's Baby Shampoo and Starbucks lattes really does any good. I'm not convinced that it does. And while I'm happy to be able to afford the big box of diapers every month that I donate to a local crisis-pregnancy center (and I will continue to do so), that effort is a drop in the bucket.
What I need to do is give where it really counts, and that means giving until it hurts. That means putting up with the Street Urchins and continuing to remind them that baseballs are not Pool Toys and sending them home when the streetlights go on. It means welcoming them, but setting (and sticking to) limits. It means praying for them. It means doing the right thing even when I don't feel like it; even when I'm cranky and resentful and feeling put-upon. Maybe especially then.
Honestly, this may be the most pro-life thing I can do right now.
In your charity today, please offer a prayer (or several) for the Lost Boys.