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A Story About a Boy January 26, 2011

Posted by Toy Lady in Home, mirth & woe, Musings, random stuff, Surly Boy.
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One evening a while ago, Peeps and I were relaxing, enjoying our regular putting-up-of-our-feet and watching some TV, when the phone rang.

PhotobucketNow that Surly Boy wasn’t home anymore (he’d already gone to The Place at this point)  and the majority of his friends knew that he wasn’t here, we didn’t get many phone calls – other than telemarketers, that is.  Sure, even now, we still get an occasional out-of-the-loop friend, but those are few and far between.

When the phone rang that night, we checked the caller ID – an “unknown number” from an unfamiliar area code.  Obviously no one we knew, so we drew straws (or maybe it was rock-paper-scissors) to see which one of us would get rid of the likely telemarketer.

I lost, so I went ahead and answered the phone.

And, surprisingly, it was a young male voice asking for Surly Boy.

Now obviously, this can’t be one of The Boy’s inner circle;  he’d been at his grandparents’ house for a while even before he went to The Place – he hadn’t actually been living at home for months.  That, and he’d had a cell phone – and his own number – for even longer.

Of course, being the responsible, efficient person I am, I politely asked if I could give the Boy a message – was there a number I could pass on?

Then the young man started talking to me.

I don’t know if you remember me or not – my name is Mike.  I used to live by you when you were in the apartment up there in Greece.  I found Surly Boy‘s name and phone number in a book from back then, and I was hoping he was still at this number.

Wow.   Surprisingly, although I never knew him well, I did remember young Mike.  He was about the same age as The Boy – maybe a year younger.  They were in middle school together – so they would have been, what?  11 or 12?

Mike was such a nice boy – so bright, so courteous, and I had always felt kind of sorry for him.

He was the oldest in his family – he had, oh, three or four younger siblings.

And his mother had. . . problems.  Medication-requiring problems.  I only met her a few times, mostly when I was hunting down my own kid for dinner or scouts or something.

Here’s the thing. This lady had a houseful of kids – most of them severely disabled – and she was enormously pregnant with yet another.

And a middle-school oldest boy who didn’t suffer those problems, but wasn’t able to enjoy being a middle-school boy because he went home every day and took over for his mother in the care and feeding of his siblings.  It just seemed so  .  .  . bleak.

Although I didn’t know this boy well,  I’ve thought of him off and on over the years, wondering what ever happened to him.

And then we talked for a little while.

It seems that young Mike’s life got much worse after we knew him.    The family moved around quite a bit, and apparently some of the “medications” mom was on weren’t exactly, um, prescription drugs, and they did not interact well with the ones that were.   Mike took on more and more of the responsibility for the smaller children, and Mom (and, evidently, Mom’s boyfriend) became violent and abusive to the point where eventually all the kids were taken from the home.

PhotobucketAnd Mike, now an angry teenager (boy, do we know how THAT goes or what?) ended up with an uncle in another state.

From whom he ran away and got himself into some trouble of the legal sort.  He didn’t say exactly what, and I didn’t ask.

Ultimately, Mike met someone who persuaded him to enlist in the Marines.  And he loved it – it had changed his life.

And he was calling because he didn’t have anyone else to call –  he was going to be shipping out to Afghanistan sometime within the next six months and, I think, wanted someone – anyone – to tell.

I told him how proud I was of him – and how I wished that I’d been able to do something – anything – for him when he needed a mom.

And I still think of this boy now and then, and I wonder what’s happened to him.




1. Kia @ A View From Here - January 26, 2011

Oh gosh, that’s very sad but also somewhat of a success story that young Mike turned his own life around and has done something so wonderful.

Exactly, Kia! I was almost in tears when I talked to him, and I still get choked up thinking about him. I’m so glad that he found that sense of belonging in the military, but I still want to give him a big hug.

2. sjbraun - January 26, 2011

Wow! How long ago was this call? Now I’m wondering about Mike too – and wishing him well.

I think it was maybe a year or so ago? It was when The Boy was still in Vermont, so . . . and yes, I’m wishing him well too.

3. mazco34 - January 26, 2011

Well, if you hear from him again, he can be your No. 92 and even possibly your No. 89.

Absolutely! In fact, one of the things I was kicking myself for was NOT getting more information so I could keep in touch with him.

4. Bee - January 26, 2011

Touching story, T.L. Regarding Surly Boy, did he graduate from that Vo-Tec school? What’s he up to now?

Thanks, Bee. Yes, he did finish the welding program. He went from there to a job in NH, from which he was laid off, then back home. Then to another job near his dad in the Southern Tier (NY), and he was recently laid off there, too. 😦 Bad time to try to get work, I guess.

Right now, he’s home – as of two days ago. We’ll be sitting down together and trying to help him get a “plan.”

Thanks for asking.

5. kayatthekeyboard - January 26, 2011

Great story. Thanks for sharing it. Bless you for being the friendly voice on the other end of the phone for him.

Aw, thank you, Kay. Still, my heart just breaks for this kid.

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