Wednesday, May 30, 2007

The Leprechaun

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.


  1. This breaks my heart. I can't imagine anything being more important than the life of a child -- even more important the life of one who's damaged. We carry our childhood with us all our lives. A fair launch for those in our sphere is the most important thing we can do. Isn't it?

  2. This one hits home, KJ. As Andrea says, it's heartbreaking. These lines speak so well of it all:
    "and watched her single-woman life and career be imploded with the force of a turbine engine."
    "Andy is hurt and fainting in slow motion, granted, but his injuries are just as critical."
    Love and prayers to Andy and Aunt Lulu ...

  3. This speaks to my condition, as we Quakers say. I come in contact with kids like this in my work with children not in school. I wrote about one of them yesterday and you can also see a pic of my desk (not as orderly as yours)

  4. What a sad, difficult situation.

  5. I wish I had the right answer to this very sad situation. A lot of children are pure victims nowadays. Victims of parents who are not able to raise them properly at all. I often think: you need a lot of schooling, diplomas and certificates for all and everything now (just try to open a shop hahahaha), but for the most important of all jobs in the world: raising young human beings....:-( Don't you have special fosterfamilies for kids like Andy? Sensible people who are able and skilled to help these youngsters?

  6. Arrrggghh! How can this happen in a real world? Our family is tenfold the size it would be if we were only born into it. Our brothers, sisters, cousins, children, have arrived at birth, two months, three years, five years, seven years....beautiful gifts of broken pasts or broken parents, but most especially by fate. I've never ever understood, the damage done to children....God bless this little one, and Auntie... praying for life free of chaos, praying for her strength, her patience, for his future. Praying for a miracle....

  7. All of us, here in the "blogosphere" wishing we could do something.
    Perhaps we can.The what and the how are beyond my ken, but at least just by being kind and good to those to whom we owe that "fair launch" of Andrea's must be a start?
    That hamster image hurts me.

  8. melissa, thanks. unfortunately, this story wrote itself.

    sue, thank you for visiting. i read your beautiful post last night. we do what we can.

    liz, yes.

    weineke, there are not enough foster families. and many who are take in kids for the money, or lack the real skills and love to make the difference. that's why i end up thinking about myself and what i do and don't do. it starts with every one of us, really, as i know you know.

    singleton, see above. and the prayers are welcomed. actually, that counts alot. i'm struck by this question: how much would you sacrifice if you could save a life? that's the core of this story, i think.

    dinahmow, well said. l love andrea's description of a "fair launch". that says so much. your kindness will definitely count. i think it seeps into the universe and finds its way from there....

  9. I feel so helpless. I wish there was something more solid I could do apart from prayers.

  10. kj...pulling heartstrings.

    Sometimes "it takes a village to raise a child"...

    I don't know, sweet girl, but I pray....

  11. kj, you have such a big heart. i am grateful that the world contains someone like you.

  12. mench,i feel the same way.

    singleton, yes--pray. i appreciate it.

  13. Do you think that there should be a requirement to become parents? You know the Humane Society will not let anyone adopt a cat if their lifestyle is not conducive to having a cat, so why not have the same requirements with parents and then keep up the yearly inspection? Would be a perfect big government program. Any moron can have a child. Sometimes some mothers don't even know the father of their children and some subcultures have altogether gotten rid of the father's significance. There should be a standard to become parents, a certain IQ level, a certain economic achievement, a certain educational level, no history of mental illness, no substance or alcohol abuse, no family history of violence and only have 1 child per family. If you want more you have to pay higher taxes. The moment parents have difficulty with their children, the state can take away the children and institutionalize them.

    NO! I am not suggesting these. These were topics being discussed on radio today because another mother hanged all four of her young children then herself and just a couple of months, a father microwaved his 2-month old baby.

  14. oh jeez, ces, i got to the "no history of mental illness, the IQ level, the elimination of those with alchohol and drug problems', and i am at a total loss of how i am going to respond to you! so i'm glad this came from the radio and not you.

    i actually do think some standards should be in place, including mandatory parenting classes for everyone--no exceptions so it's across-the-board fair.

    and i think as a society we should be talking about andrea's 'fair launches' and resources to help kids grow into good citizens and loving people.

  15. In our country where we have the same problems as with you in that respect, we have recently and for the first time a special 'minister of familybusiness'. So politics are at least aware of the fact that there is a lot of work to do in this area. Of course there have always been neglected children in this rich part of the world, but it seems that it is become worse. There are special programs on television where you can see how parents treat their children in the wrong way. Special people are training them on the spot and you can see that this helps a lot. I believe in helping people by talking and training. Not all parents and children can be helped in this way, but sure a lot will. I hope you understand what I mean. Sometimes what I want to say is lost in translation. Sorry ;-)

  16. jessie, my heart is the same size as yours.

    weineke, i know the programs you are talking about. in this case, the state and local agencies have been slow and then slower to intervene in a family where six children needed either foster care or intensive home services.

    in the usa, there are tv programs like 'nanny 911' and they are wonderfully helpful. but sometimes, when there is not physical abuse or obvious neglect, children fall through all too many cracks.

    here i am wondering what i, one person, can, should, could, might, ought to do......

  17. KJ, you cannot help everyone who needs help. That is an impossible mission and not realistic. But maybe you can volunteering in e.g. being a guardian or help in training programs?