One friend thinks it’s up to his parents and anyone else would be crazy to take him in. Another thinks he’s at the make-or-break point and if he has to go back home, his future is toast, his chances are over.
He’s a little boy by anybody’s standard—not yet five feet tall with blond bowl shaped hair and a short sleeved baseball suit that somehow lets you know he is the pitcher and shortstop. Oh, and he has the smile of a little angel-imp.
His name is Andy and he is staying with his Aunt Lulu because he was in all kinds of trouble in the chaotic house where his exhausted mother and drug dependent father cannot control any of their six boys, ages 16 to 3.
He probably does have attention deficit disorder and he definitely panics when things don’t go his way. He can’t fall asleep without someone lying with him, and months ago he stayed up all night for several nights after his father threatened to kill his hamster.
He does such an authentic leprechaun imitation you expect to see him jump onto the chandelier and swing away.
There is pretty much agreement by everyone involved that if he goes back home his trouble will follow him to adulthood, and probably settle there for the rest of his life. So his Aunt Lulu has completed a rescue mission and taken him in, enrolled him in 6th grade, and watched her single-woman life and career be imploded with the force of a turbine engine. She had no idea about the demands of after school and homework and baseball games and boring Saturdays and dinners and extra laundry and especially she had no idea about Andy’s occasional rage.
There are counselors and psychologists and supportive friends and there is true blue hope that Andy and Aunt Lulu might become a family. They are both trying, but it’s not looking good.
The friend who looks to Andy’s parents to shape up really knows this is not going to happen. And the other friend who believes the moment is near when this little boy either finds safety or is lost forever, knows you cannot create real resources where there are none. Both both fall asleep wondering what they might do to help Andy. They are looking at their full wonderful lives and know they cannot absorb a 12 year old boy without great great life-changing sacrifice. (Why couldn't I take him in?, they dare to think.) They push themselves to be realistic, but that is not an easy thing to do. It is easier than ignoring the reality of Andy’s situation altogether, but not by much.
If a person of any age were hurt in an auto accident, for example, or fainted at the movies, almost anyone would stick around to help, do what they could, and then feel good about it. (Couldn't I?) In a sense, Andy is hurt and fainting in slow motion, granted, but his injuries are just as critical. You can trick yourself into just standing and watching, but not really. You can also try to shake up and bitch down the agencies one would hope are equipped to step in and help, but the reality is they really aren't equipped--not for slow moving emotional damage.
Aunt Lulu maybe can’t do this. So then what? What is expected when honorable good people—those with busy lives and open hearts—see a good sweet child with the potential of the universe, teetering and trying to hold on to his dear life? A 12 year old child looking for a place to be safe so he can let go of the survival skills he’s had to learn and replace them with his true leprechaun self.