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Sometimes a Woman Has to Have a Man
My wife was traveling for work; so, when I came home and found a policeman waiting at my doorstep, my heart stopped. I considered countless tragedies he was awaiting to share. I considered her son who was standing next to me and prayed that the officer would have the decency to allow me to excuse him and give me time to scream my curses to God before drying my eyes and putting on a brave smile while telling her child that it would be just him and me against the world. But the officer wasn't there to tell me I was a widow. He was there to tell me my nine year old stepson had been accused of a crime, but what I heard was, "It's time for you all to get a man."
For several years before this incident, I had been insisting to my wife that I was picking up on behavior that would have long term ramifications if not addressed. Hearing me but not wholeheartedly believing me, she would try to do things my way, but would often fall flat. Other times she would totally ignore me. But I was relentless- in hindsight, perhaps too relentless. I was very hard on him, because I felt that I had to be the total disciplinarian and make up for what his mother would not do. This caused a lot of conflict between her and me. Little did I know that it would take a near expulsion from school and a police officer at our door before she would see what I saw.
Foolishly, I thought the major problem was her not seeing the problem, but actually it was trying to fix it. Before the police came knocking at our door, I had one bag packed. I had, had enough of his behavior and her ignoring it. Then two things happened. She and I talked, and, that time she really seemed to understand that the problem was real. Secondly, in an emotional outburst I looked him in his eyes and told him that I refused to be a loser. I explained that I was now at war to win him from the streets and I was going to be doggone if I lost. With tears rolling down my face, I explained to him that I would stop at nothing to save him. And that promise kept my feet firmly planted at home.
As a result of his behavior, our home life had to completely change. He immediately went into counseling. Also, he could no longer go outside alone. That meant he couldn't help out by walking the dog, or taking out the trash, or even walking to the bus stop. He couldn't even be trusted to be in any part of the house alone. If he went downstairs to eat a bowl of cereal, someone had to be there. His prison was our prison. But even with all that, there was a missing link. Despite all our good intentions, we were in over our heads. We were two women trying to make sense of a troubled young boy. We needed. He needed. All of us needed a man.
I suggested to his mother that perhaps he could go live with his godfather for a period. She was afraid to ask, so of course I did. We agreed that he would spend several weeks with him over the summer. Also, his grandfather called and wanted him to visit him. He would spend another week or so there. We made it through the remainder of the school year, and, at the beginning of the summer, immediately shipped him off. And that has made all the difference.
A troubled young boy left my home and a budding young man returned. During his time with real men, he worked on cars and had conversations a boy can only have with a man. While away, he called me to let me know that he had matured, that the old him was gone and that he was a new man, and that he was ready to begin dating. He came back home talking about being a man of integrity- and yes that is the word he used. And now that he is home, he is showing me constantly that he is a changed man. For the first time in a year, he made the honor roll. He thinks about how his choices are the causes of his punishments instead of shifting the blame on his 'mean' parents. And I know that this shift is because of the positive male influences in his life. Thankfully, we didn't learn too late, that sometimes you just need a man.
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