The purpose of airing this in cyberspace is with the hope and prayer that someone somewhere will see hope, and see that Jesus is the answer, and the only answer, to freedom from addiction of any sort. God makes no mistakes. God is the God of second chances. God is in control. God is the redeemer of horrible circumstances. All good truths. All hung onto for dear life. All questioned at times. But we know it's true - God is Good, All the Time! He kept us and sustained us and brought victory where there appeared to be very little hope.
As I mentioned in Part II, we thought junior high went pretty well. Kev had some really good teachers, one in particular, who cared about him and mentored him. It was at this time in his life that the wisdom of the school district in our town took a leave of absence. They decided in April to make huge changes in the educational system of our children - two months before school was out that year, they decided that 9th graders would go to high school and 6th graders would go to middle school. This caused great turbulence for both of my children, but Kev's turned out to be a better situation than Kristen's, because they were renovating his old school building, so there were only two grades for the two years he was there. But when he hit 9th grade and high school, it was not a good thing.
The rule was that 9th graders could not leave the building for lunch, but everyone else could. However, there was nobody at the door checking identification! They came and went as they pleased. Ever since those turbulent high school years, I have been on a soap box about open campus and block scheduling. They were allowed to leave if they didn't have a class, in fact were not really allowed to stay unless they went to the library. At least that is what I was told - who knows if it was true?! The scheduling was really detrimental to someone like Kevin, who took every freedom WAY beyond its original intention. It was at this point, from what I can tell, that he began hanging out with older guys who had cars and were willing to take a 9th grader out to lunch with them - usually not to return.
I was a stay-at-home mom for many years and very happily so. When I did go to work, it was only 3 hours a day in the school district, so I was always home when the kids were. Then I took a job in a middle school, and was still home at the end of their school day and for all vacations. It was the summer after Kristen's graduation, between Kevin's sophomore and junior years, when college expenses were looming, that we decided we needed more income and that the kids were old enough to be at home alone. I'm not sure my being at home would have made a bit of difference, but I have often wondered.
Kev was to find a summer job. He did not. Yet he always had evidence of fast food dining in his car. I wondered who was footing the bills, but no good answers were forthcoming when we asked. I didn't give him any money, which was supposed to force him into the working world. It wasn't until much later that we discovered where the money was coming from.
I remember as if it were yesterday the call I got from the police or the Safeway manager about the cigarette theft. I was new at my job and I remember yelling into the phone, "He did WHAT??" I forgot where I was. Of course, the story I got was that Tony had stolen the cigarettes, that he himself didn't smoke, and that they had thrown them into the lagoon across the street from school.
A really bad memory is the middle-of-the-night call we got from the police that our car (the one we let Kevin drive) was at the scene of a large under-age drinking party, way out in the country. We got up, dressed, and headed for the scene. There were many cars along this road in a new subdivision. We waited for hours in the dark, tortured, wondering where in the world he was. Apparently, they all scattered through the fields behind the house when the police arrived. We knew he'd have to come back for the car sooner or later. As testament to his sneakiness, suddenly the car was no longer there and we hadn't seen it leave. Turns out the young girl's parents were out of town and she took full advantage of the situation to have one of those famous parties that t.v. shows use as a story line - sometimes trying to make it humorous, when in reality it's anything but.
Brandon - the name conjures up sick feelings in my stomach. I never saw the good qualities Kevin mentioned. I only saw a huge, devious, lying, sneaky guy who was aiding and abetting my son's downward spiral. He seemingly had no conscience. When we confronted him and his parents, they were no help whatsoever. We lost so much money that year. We were foolish and trusting and had money in drawers. Over $200 disappeared from my purse one day. One day he came and "borrowed" Dwight's golf clubs from our garage, driving a car from his job that he wasn't supposed to be driving, during his work day. I'll never forget the day we came home and found huge footprints leading to our back door in the snow. We also foolishly left our back door to the garage unlocked in those days. There were wet places on the carpet up to Kev's room, and his gallon jug full of coins was gone. He mentioned losing money from his apartment and finally feeling what it was like to be the victim of theft.
The scam with the bank and the foster mom's checkbook comes as a shock to me. I also remember clearly the day the two detectives showed up at our house to question Kevin about it. I truly believed he was the innocent victim.
The day that our head-in-the-sand or, at the very least, naive lifestyle came to a screeching halt was the day after Thanksgiving. Kristen was home for the holiday and was flying back to school on Saturday. It was our tradition to put up our Christmas tree that Friday. I have to say that, no matter how far Kev got from us emotionally and spiritually, he was very tied to our traditions and wanted everything done as it had always been done. He wasn't home much, but he wanted to be there for the traditions. I believe that had a lot to do with his not leaving for good and never coming back to us.
The phone rang as I was cleaning up from dinner, looking forward to our traditional holiday evening. Little did I know that the voice at the other end of the line was going to cause our world to come crashing down on our heads. It was a woman police officer saying that Kevin needed to come down to the station for questioning. When I told her what was going on, and that Kristen was leaving the next day, she actually let us bring him in the next evening. Kev fell asleep on the way home from the airport. I distinctly remember looking back at him sleeping on the back seat. He looked so innocent that I cried to think that it was all just an illusion. His innocence was long gone. And we didn't know how far gone it was. We urged him to go with us to the airport that day, knowing that if he knew about the police interview, he'd take off and we'd never know where he was. When he woke up, we were at the station. What an absolutely horrid experience to watch your son being fingerprinted. The officer had him sit between us, across the desk from her, as she questioned him. He denied everything at first, but eventually the truth came out that he and his friend (I thought it was Brandon) had broken into a friend's house and stolen several hundred dollars. The immersion into the legal system that day was one I never dreamed we'd enter. We still believed a lot of what he said, and we spent a lot of money on legal counsel.
Kevin talks about graduating from high school by the skin of his teeth, and the dummying down of the school district's requirements. Every student had to take a course in economics in order to graduate. Most waited until their senior year. Kev took it first semester and failed it. There was not a single spot left for him to take it second semester, leaving him ineligible for graduation. We brokered a deal with the teacher to let him do it as an independent study. Tony was in the same situation. I took it upon myself to make sure he passed at least that class. For some reason he would stay home each night just long enough to do a bit of economics homework with me. Tony would be waiting for us to finish - I don't think he ever finished his requirements. I feel certain that I learned a lot more than Kev did about the subject. But he passed it with a B, and I didn't take the tests for him! His graduation year was the centennial for the high school, which meant an evening graduation ceremony at the football field with fireworks to follow. It was a freezing cold night, he was sick, and the memory is not pleasant. I often told him I was going to walk across the stage with him to accept his diploma, since he would not have graduated without my help in economics.
The job with our friends did save his life, I am sure. It was hard work, and long hours, starting early in the morning. He worked for them for 5 years as a welder. These were some pretty dark days for us, and as I've said, we were in the dark about a lot of it. Work became my refuge. I can remember many times, when he was still living at home, watching for his car to come down the culdesac in the middle of the night, because I couldn't sleep. We'd then talk before he went to bed and I was able to finally sleep. I imagine now that most of the talking was for my good, and that he didn't really even remember the conversations the next day, but they gave me hope.
TO BE CONTINUED!