In his head he knew that Sandy wouldn't acknowledge the day. In his heart, I think he secretly hoped that she would come through. We had talked about his expectations a few days before the weekend and I knew he would be a bit tender. I decided that it might do us a bit of good to get out of the house and to go dance on some tabletops, metaphorically speaking. So I invited him out on Saturday night to dinner, followed by some bullriding (watching, not participating) and a Charlie Robison concert - cuz nothing says love and concern quite like a snot-slinging, bone-breaking, chute-crashing Brahma-cross bull. I had some other errands to run during the day on Saturday and I came home to learn that he'd asked our 15-year old neighbor to join us.
I don't know if I've talked alot about The Kid, but Bick and I adore him. He struggles academically in school, but is as chockful of common sense and gumption as any kid his age I've ever seen. He's forever coming over and jumping in to help us with whatever we are doing, either for pay or not. He is just trying to stay busy. Bick and I made it a point to try to attend some of his football games last fall and we each took some vacation time to make sure someone was there to support him if his parents were unable to attend. Our goal has been to make this kid see that the world has more to offer him than what he sees day in and day out in our neighborhood.
Our neighborhood is a neighborhood of the working poor. It's an mixture of white and hispanic - those on the bottom rung of the homeownership ladder. Many have bought out here because of the owner financing options and are overpaying for their homes, but their options are limited. Bick bought out here on the cheap because of the location and his desire to have a little bit of space. It's a pretty safe bet to say that Bick and I are better off, better educated than anyone else in the area, but since we are both from blue collar backgrounds, it's never been an issue for either of us. We are comfortable here and we like our neighbors. It is, however, disheartening to see the number of alcoholics in this neighborhood, and on that issue, Bick doesn't get a pass. He's another of the high functioning, alcohol-dependent men in the neighborhood who go to work every day.
The Kid's Dad falls into this category I think. I don't know a harder working man. He works 6 days a week as a diesel mechanic in a sweatbox of a garage and at least from outward appearances, he and The Kid have a good relationship under normal circumstances. I like this guy. He's always treated me and Bick well and he's been a good neighbor. The family is a blended one and is under a great deal of pressure right now - her 18 year old daughter is pregnant and while married, the new husband, also 18, is jobless and the baby is due in a month. Her son is 20 and is shipping of to Iraq in a couple of weeks. His father was just diagnosed with cancer. His oldest son is somewhat estranged. She doesn't work outside the home, as they have a 14 year old with some developmental problems and appears to need pretty constant supervision when not in school. So I am sure there are money woes, etc.
And last night things apparently went too far. I wasn't aware of any of it, as after dinner, I had fallen asleep on the couch watching TV while Bick went outside to mess around in the garden. Apparently lots of yelling could be heard from the place next door, with the Kid standing in the middle of his yard, his mom was outside as well and his dad was yelling at one or both of them from an open door. Bick heard his Mom say to the Kid "Go over to Bick's" and so he came over.
The Kid was in tears - crying like a little bitty kid, Bick said. Bick stopped what he was doing, took the Kid aside to find out what was going on. I don't know all of the details, as I wasn't there, but Bick said that the Dad and the Kid had evidently gotten into some sort of row and the Kid was ready to move out with his older, somewhat estranged brother in East Texas. Bick calmed the Kid, hugged him, encouraged him to talk about what had happened, gave him time to gather himself and talk about how he felt, asked if he'd been assaulted etc. Bick told him how much he/we thought of him - that we think he's very special and has many, many good things going for him and that our biggest concern for him was dropping out of school and that moving to east Texas would not make things easier in that regard. Bick talked about being an alcoholic and making many, many mistakes with Sandy and how he regretted things that he had said and done, just as he was sure the Kid's dad would. Bick offered our home as a place where the Kid was always welcome - to talk or not talk, just hang out or just get away from whatever was going on at home. The Kid said that he was tired of the fighting, the yelling. And Bick got to hear from the child's perspective what it was like to live in a home with fighting, alcoholic parents.
When Bick came in the house and woke me up to tell me what had happened, he was pretty much in tears himself. And with a new resolve to try to make amends for past mistakes with Sandy, without expecting anything in return from her.
Take good care of yourself. Be kind to others. Teach your children well.