Today, my son is back in jail. For at least two months. And I’m going to tell you a story:
In 1972, my friend Wendy said, “Let’s go to Girl Scout camp!” So we did. And I went back every year, once for a two-month stretch, until 1981 when I was hired as staff. I worked there until 1984.
Oh, I was still a Scout after that, on and off, and volunteered as a troop leader, delegate, trainer, cookie chair, and so forth. And I got married and had a few kids.
And then one of them had a few problems.
It started with a few lies; some trouble at school, an expulsion. Removal from the bus, kicked out of Boy Scouts. More lies, and stealing—from us, but some questionable “deals” with friends too. Then it moved to school suspension, more lies, tormenting his brother—not just regular stuff, but more—and another expulsion.
Then the violence began. He physically fought with his dad; he called me vile names. He trashed our house. He lied even to officers, over and over, and to caseworkers and school officials. And he hit me.
I pressed charges.
He spent three weeks in juvie, and was an angel when he got out. For exactly 24 hours. Ten days later, he was back in juvie, but this time something different happened.
He was put into protective custody, because he claimed his dad beat him.
We went to court. The judge ordered him into foster care to, and I quote, “Give his parents a break. They need it.”
So, because of this, we had to have “family meetings.” The caseworker, bless her heart, was just out of school and had no kids, no pets even, and started every session with, “No shaming, no blaming!”
That just didn’t set well with me.
And I said, “Of course, he should be ashamed of his behavior and of course it’s his fault—he’s sixteen, he’s knows right from wrong, he deliberately becomes violent and lies.”
Anyone who has dealt with or read stories about social services knows that common sense is often sadly lacking.
That was six years ago.
This past fall, I renewed my Girl Scout membership. I signed up to volunteer and received an email saying I’d passed the background check, etc. Come winter, I applied for and was hired to be a summer program specialist, part-time. I also volunteered to be a camp promoter, attended a kick-off event, and one promo event at a local school.
And finally, this summer, I could go back to camp!
Except I couldn’t.
Two days before the training was scheduled, I received a phone call. It seems more background info had arrived at Council, and according to social services, it was substantiated that I had “shamed a child.” Council wanted to ask me about this.
So I told them everything.
And I was fired. I was told, and again I quote, “We can’t have you around our girls.”
My son was in and out of jails several times, petty theft, etc., and a year and a half ago he spent six months in jail on robbery and property damage charges; this is the case that is still pending. In spite of telling me he’d taken care of things, he hadn’t, and so he violated his probation from a year ago. Rumor has it that he may be sentenced to two years in prison. I don’t know yet. Sentencing is in July.
But he’s the reason that I can never go back to the place I’ve always loved the most. Yet, he’s still my son.
I look back at all the sacrifices I made for my children, over the years, like most parents do. They don’t seem so difficult in retrospect, but this . . . this may be the worst. All my memories are tainted with that one sentence:
“We can’t have you around our girls.”