I think I’ve probably posted in the past about the Summer Kids: the kids from down the street who have ended up at my house nearly every day of every summer for the last few years. I’ve been the impromptu babysitter for these kids for, wow, I guess now this is the 4th year. They are brothers, one just older than my son and the other a couple of years older. This year, that couple of years has seen the oldest turn into a teenager, which means that the difference between the kids has become about far more than age. From very early on, I figured out that trusting the older one was a bad idea, though I’ve continued to give him chance after chance after chance after… I’m someone who just thinks that there is good in there, no matter what, and that if you give it enough chances, you might see it work its way out and actually develop. Apparently, though, I’m no match for whatever else is at work in his day, including his parents.
The younger brother is a sweet child, artistic, kind. He’s the one we met first all those years ago, as he rode his bike down the street and we introduced ourselves. He’s finally come into his own this summer, old enough to feel okay telling his brother that, no, he doesn’t want to share his space, actually. I’d like to think that I’ve helped that along; I’ve certainly encouraged the younger kids that they have a right to their independence from the older kids.
I’ve now had the younger child at my house for 7-8 hours a day for numerous days out of the last week, and I can safely assume that this will continue for the rest of the summer. It’s even been on the weekend. It’s when both parents are home or just one, no matter which parent it is. I sometimes wonder when these people see their kids and if they care whether they do. I wonder what in the world they do with their kids that is not about what they, the parents, are interested in doing and just drag their kids along. I wonder why they had kids.
Recently, I’ve twice heard the heartache in this child’s voice as he told me (in so many words – I don’t want to quote) that one of the parents had no interest in him or what he was doing that day, as long as he wasn’t around to be a bother, and as he described an incident with his brother that the brother turned physical, resulting in the bleeding of the younger child. The incident was entirely dismissed by the parents, and I could hear the bewilderment in his voice as he told me about it and could see that he was fighting not to cry in front of me that his parents, the people he trusted, could be so unjust and so apathetic about the fact that he had been attacked and bloodied – in his own home, no less.
Needless to say, I understood.