So the question is asked if a teenager who raises his hand against his mother beyond repair?
I was asking myself this question because I was staring at a teen that had. I was only privileged to this information because I had to go to court for the young man. Not because I was a witness to his attacking his mother but for something else.
Over a year ago the young man, let’s call him Raynard, was skipping school at the library. We don’t say too much about the people skipping because we don’t know if they are actually truant or if they attend a school for problem children that has varied start times.
Because, really, if you have a teenager who has various issues don’t you want to give him/her endless, unstructured free time to spend with their friends?
Apparently we as a society don’t think there is anything is wrong with that. Or we are oblivious to the fact that it’s happening which is basically the same thing.
Raynard was skipping though. A patron had come up to me to tell me that Raynard was on our public computer and masturbating –all the while only a few steps away from me. Raynard was less than six steps away from me, from my position I couldn’t what he was viewing on the computer and after I was informed of what he was doing I didn’t want to look at him straight on. So I walked away from the desk and behind him and there he was, sitting bare-assed on our hard plastic chairs, his jeans around his thighs (which is actually the fashion for many young men) and his underwear slipped down just as far. His hand was beneath the table and I couldn’t see it but I could tell his arm was working furiously.
“What the heck are you doing?” I exclaimed. I have “no-chill” in situations such as this. What I should have done was secretly walk past him and then call security so they could try to catch him in the act (although too many of our guards are slow-moving middle-aged men) but instead I confronted the boy.
First Raynard got up and left in a huff but he came back a minute later asking what he had done wrong. I was spraying down the chair and computer with Lysol as he looked on indignant.
“What did I do wrong?” he asked incredulously. “It wasn’t all that. Why you acting like that?”
“Dude! You were masturbating at the computer!”
“No one wants to touch the computer after you’ve been touching yourself,” I said pointedly. “No one wants to sit in a chair that just had your bare behind on it.”
I turned to the girls who had been obliviously sitting beside the boy on their own computer. “Would you girls want to sit next to a guy masturbating?”
“Say what?” one of the girls asked, her eyes growing wide with wonder.
“No!” said the other definitely.
By then the security guard and deputy sheriff who was on duty came in. My co-worker had called them
“Still…” said Raynard growing more indignant. “You didn’t have to do all that.”
“Yes I did,” I said. “It’s nasty.”
The deputy took Raynard away and charged him with indecent exposure. Later I told the responding guard that the crazy thing about it is he could have walked away and come back another day to do whatever if he had just stayed gone when he first left.
Three months later I got a summons to appear in court on the matter. Initially I didn’t remember –we have so many nutty teens who come in to entertain us—but my coworker jarred my memory.
“Ohhhh, him!” I said. “Ugh, that child!”
The first time I went to court he didn’t show up so the case got continued. The second time I went to court the case was continued again because his mother didn’t show and the prosecutor wanted to put all the issues together. It was then I discovered that the boy only recently turned 15 and the other case involved his mother, whom he allegedly attacked one day. He had a few more issues that I can’t recall but it was at that moment I realized that he was troubled. No, he should not have skipped school to come to the library to get heated up watching gay porn in a teen area but he didn’t get to that point by himself.
The third time the case was continued there was a discussion about who had custody of him, his mother or the state. I didn’t even show up to court that time because the arresting deputy said he would contact me if the case actually began.
So by the fall Raynard returned as if it was all over. And for all he knew it was. When I saw him I called security to have him escorted out because I thought he had been kicked out for at least three years. But we soon discovered for that indiscretion he only received six months.
Security wanted to know if I still wanted him removed but I remembered the other charges against him and instead of being afraid I just felt sad. How could he be so young and so fucked up? So I pulled him aside and talked to him.
But before I could even say a word he spoke first.
“I am so sorry,” he said. “What I did was wrong and I didn’t mean to hurt you.”
“I don’t think you are that person anymore. I think you want to change and if you want to be here I want you to stay. I don’t hold anything against you.”
“I’m just so sorry,” he said again tears filling his eyes.
“I know,” I said. And we hugged.
I don’t know what makes a teen to act out this way. Sometimes its parenting. Sometimes it’s hormones. I’d even hazard to place the blame on peers and society. Maybe it’s all of these things working together or a chemical imbalance or something else entirely different. I don’t know. But what I do know, what I hope, is that we don’t always hold a child’s missteps against him, even something as egregious as an attack on a mother.