I'm Eighteen

A co-worker's step-son is troubling, to say the least. He's 18 years old, has a "maybe" baby (the family isn't convinced 100% that he's the father) and has been kicked out of his home and his grandmother's home. By all accounts he seems to be rolling head first down the path of a life spent in and out of jail, or worse. He dropped out of school and has been involved in some very questionable activity and was shot through the neck about two weeks ago. His story of that action is unclear. Now, the mom and step-dad find out that he's in the county jail, but they don't know why. It doesn't sound very positive for him, does it?

Yesterday, this hard-nosed step-dad was struggling over whether or not to put a few dollars in the young man's account. Now, I don't know how it is where you are, but here in Michigan you are not given much of anything for free in jail. You have an account and purchase your own soap, tooth brush and toothpaste, etc. If you don't have the money, you pretty much go without or are given a very low, low grade of toiletries that I hear is probably like lye. Either way, you don't get much and if you want anything at all, you have to have a way to pay for it. Additionally, each day you are locked up you are charged a fee, like a motel. When you leave, you have so many days to pay for your visit, or you are in probation violation for which you may be picked up again and locked up. In better times, many men could return to a job or had the means to pay for things, but not in this economy.

Anyway, M was in the office talking about whether or not to put a few bucks in P's account and I was happy to hear a softer, more compassionate side of him. Two other mother's in the office ranted very loudly, "don't do it! Let him go without! Maybe he'll learn a thing or two......." and on and on it went. Somewhere in my mind I kept hearing "stone him, stone him". I've heard comments made that he is "hopeless." These are the moments where I would like to say "Shut the heck up!"

At 18 years old, they call him a "MAN". Most of us know that at 18 a young person is hardly a man or a woman. They are just warming up. Some choose constant choices that are unhealthy, unlawful, or unbelievable. We don't know the history of anyone's life but our own and those closest to us. I'm not advocating that we coddle, ignore or excuse the behavior. But the older I get the more I want to say that NO ONE is hopeless or worthless. These men and women were created for a reason, just as we were. If their choices have been less than wise, they have to learn life's lessons the hard way. Some will stay in this path for the rest of their lives while others will have slow awakenings and become mature in an uncoventional way. But there is ALWAYS hope.

I just don't believe in giving up on another human being, especially at the ripe old age of 18.


Pam said...

Yes. 18 is a baby man.
Lou said that MI charges inmates. We don't have that here.
To me, if you put money in their account and they have a few basic comforts...I think they are more likely to "learn" something about being locked up. If they have nothing but the "lock up" then it breeds bitterness and "poor me" more rapidly.
The sad truth is though that either way the parents go....probably won't change a damn thing for babyman, but it may help mom and dad sleep a little better-and hey that's worth somethin'.

Laura said...

I think the jail/prison system in Michigan is the only productive business income in the whole state right now. :(


I sure see your point of view.

It seems too soon to give up on someone entirely at the age of 18.

Depends a little on what he did.

Annette said...

Thanks for that. Compassion on our lost children is huge.

kristi said...

I have let the two convicts in my family know that I love them but they are in there for a reason. Yes, I occasionally send them a few $$'s.

Cat said...

"But there is ALWAYS hope." Somehow I was meant to come here today adn to read this - I needed it - my son is only 16 and to be reminded that there is hope - its very helpful.


J-Online said...

if you've been told your stupid and hopeless enough, eventually you start to believe it and it perpetuates the problem. Like other people said, "There is always hope," and "There are a lot of miracles out there who's blogs we read daily." Never give up!

Syd said...

Compassion for a few toiletries seems like it would give this young man something that may help his self-respect. It also sends a message of love. It's isn't condoning anything but it is a decent thing to do. He isn't asking for a bail out.

Lou said...

I send money, because I've been told what a difference a cup of instant coffee will make in your day. I won't even make any excuses for it.

cedrorum said...

18 is very young. Of course 18 year olds, including myself, think they know everything. As a parent I know this isn't true. When I hear stories like this they always make me wonder why the kids get to this point in the first place. I don't like to speculate, but I have a feeling I know some of the answers of why.

AlkySeltzer said...

Well...I'll be honest--which no longer is difficult. It used to be impossible. Often I side with those who say "..teach them a lesson","If we're gonna baby 18-yr old men and women, keep them home, take away their phone. If we have not taught them in 18 years, right from wrong, we ain't gonna do it at all." "Some things they'll have to learn on their own." (Well, that one is true, no matter what!)

Along then comes a blog (and yours ain't the first, by far!) which gets me to thinkng. "Steve, you are being SO judgemental, SO very unforgiving, SO without compassion, understanding, and love. Something is wrong with you, steveroni."

And so it gets me thinking (and there's LOTS of this kind of 'children-in-trouble' blogging here) that I may be wrong. I'd rather put it this way, though: "YOU MAY BE RIGHT!" Thanks!


Just Another Sober Guy said...

Seems like a controversial topic. At 18 it seems as if many are incapable or unwilling to making wise choices. With that in mind I would imagine the tough lessons that we try to teach by giving up on them might also be lost on them.

Everyone is different, each scenario is different, we are who we are. We get to who we are by going through every little thing that happens along the way.

It is a shame to see young people struggling through so much difficulty and turmoil in their lives. I do wish their was an answer for them.

I am glad I am older and would not want to be a teenager for one minute in this world today.

I thank God I am where I am and pray for those who are suffering and struggling.