Dad here. One morning I came down the stairs, seeing this exact scene—my 17 year old with a young man, asleep after what must have been a night of ‘hard labour’. I very quietly made breakfast, went back upstairs and told my wife, son and other (youngest) daughter to be very quiet because people were still asleep. Our dinner table is on the other side of the room, about 20 feet from the couch but right in front of it. We all sat down and I yelled “YOUNG MAN.”
Never ever have I seen someone wake up and move from horizontal to vertical that fast.
“Breakfast is ready!” I said with a tone as if I gladly would suck his soul out of his body. Through his left ear. I pulled out the chair beside me. “Sit!” my family silent. staring at their plates. not even twitching.
It must have been the hardest 20 feet for a butt naked youngster to cross. After he put on his clothes, which lay beside the dinner table, he sat down. My son (6’4″) patted him on the shoulder looked him in the eyes, sighed and shook his head. By now he was really, really nervous. You could almost smell it.
In my best Russian accent: “My friend, I’m going ask you a question. the answer you give is very important….for you.” At this point he was sweating.
“Do you like cats?”
He was a very likeable and friendly guy. Clearly uneducated but not dumb. There was something odd about him. My daughter assured me he was a very nice and attentive guy. She knew him for about a month by then. He came by every day since that morning. never stayed over at night though.
Every morning he came to pick her up for school on his bicycle, brought her home after, made sure she did her homework. Looked after her when she was sick and we were at work. He invested time end effort. He had the patience of an angel when she had one of her terrible moods.
He said he had no family, no education, no steady job. she adores him. he adores her. who am i to prevent her from learning from her own mistakes.
After this had been going on for about 8 months my son came to me. He had been asking around about him. Turns out the guy was homeless. His abusive father killed himself. His mother, a crackhead took off 3 weeks after that. They lived in a rented trailer.
He was 15 then and survived for 3 years on the streets. Sleeping in parks, at the salvation army, with “friends”, cheap hotels.
Now there I was. I knew a young man, 18 or 19 years old, who was polite, who comes in smiling and who leaves smiling. Who cares. Who helps, no need to ask. Who makes my child happy.
A kid who had never had a chance to be a kid. A mainly absent manic depressive suicidal as a dad and a crackhead as a mum. Sometimes fed by neighbours, but mostly going hungry.
Sometimes when he does not come over because he has a job we miss him. They are not buddies but my son gets along with him very well. My youngest daughter trusts him unconditionally and my wife’s motherly instinct seems to have expanded. And me? I sometimes worry for him. I want him to be happy.
I told my wife and youngest what I learned about him. They cried. I was disappointed in my oldest daughter. She knew. She should have told us. She loves him but lets him leave every night to go…where?
The next day I gave him a key to our house. I told him I expected him home every night. Home. In the next weeks we fixed our spare room and took him shopping for furniture. He was quite good in making things. He wanted to be his own boss, he liked building things. We saw to it that he got an education which enabled him to do just that.
That was in 2000. Now 15 years later, my found son and my daughter have a thriving business. They gave us our 3 beautiful grandchildren last year.
Life isn’t about how to survive the storm, but how to dance in the rain.
If he had thrown the guy out at first, the family would have missed out on quite the blessing.