Peace. I was raised and remain a Mennonite where the message of Peace doesn’t get missed. We are taught to turn the other cheek and not to fight back. Our history is such that Peace over war along side with conscientious objection is what we all know about. As the generations have moved forward we have not faced the hard challenges our forefathers did as tests of faith – or so I thought until a local bully whom we’ll call B.B. beat up our youngest son…..and peace on the local level became something we had to fight for!
Exactly one week after the last day of school, our two sons both at the time age 10 grabbed a basketball to take along to the sitters in the morning as I dropped them off with normal hugs, kisses and “have a good day” parting ways to meet back together at the end my work day. The boys loved the summer freedom of no homework and relaxed schedules of play, play and more play. I’d already heard their daily tales of car tracks made of stones and the countless number of toads found and named. Life was good as they knew it that day as the boys with 3 other friends headed over shoot hoops across from the sitters on what happened to be school grounds – using their nice concrete padded spot with a goal for basketball. It wasn’t too long before a local boy called B.B. came along and some altercation happened – the stories all differ slightly from what we’ve heard – but the end result is pretty much the same. Supposedly B.B., who was 13 yrs old, took my youngest son and choked him from behind and threw him on the ground. I’ll get into some details later. The jest of it is that an adult saw our son being trounced and called in to the local PD.
The local PD; fresh from a child abuse training; used his newfound skills – photographing our son and using testimony from the others – including our other son to form a grand report which enabled him to pull in B.B. and take him to “intake” aka Juvey on battery charges. Besides the fact that the local small town PD didn’t notify any parents we learned quickly that as parents of a victim – your rights are very limited and slow for results. Not even a police report would be released to us so we could see what was said by our children and reported. We felt violated and the boy’s fears of this B.B. escalated.
Phone calls to the local District Attorney got us no further information, nor cooperation. We hired an attorney to push them to get us a copy of the police report. We were denied again. Frustrated and feeling helpless, our lawyer suggested we make personal contact with the parents of this child. The rumors of this child asking for drugs and that the “father” was scary abounded in our small town. We were aware of a program called “Victim Offenders Reconciliation Program” and made some calls to them. They helped us through a process of healing and renewal as they made contact with the child and parent, as well as allowing us to have contact with them. We had the boy come and spend an entire day with us – in which we promised our boys we wouldn’t leave them alone. When we told Anthony B.B. was coming over for a day he looked at me and said “No way.” He just didn’t believe me. I said “you think he is a bully and are afraid of him – I want to show you he is just a boy like you who needs understanding and compassion for making a poor choice.” Through V.O.R.P. the boys took ownership for probably not being kind to him when he approached them, and BB had the opportunity to apologize to them as well. Our day together was good in removing the barriers for our children. For me my heart went out to a boy from the “wrong side of town” whose Mom drank too much, Dad was busy trucking and he was lost in a world that didn’t give him support. We also learned that the local PD had actually asked BB’s dad if they could use BB to find people looking for drugs to lure them to a person they wanted to frame/set up…..no wonder people said BB was a bad kid – they didn’t know he was trying to be a hero lured but the local PD who only damaged his reputation!
I’ve wished B.B. would feel able to rely on us and we could be there for him – we’ve had minimal contact but my heart holds a spot for him and I pray God will keep him safe and guide him in his rough life. Just last week his Mom was picked up in a meth lab bust…..life is hard and it saddens me for the young victims of this world. This is why we foster. We can’t save them all – but we’ve saved three so far….their stories aren’t over yet either….so we’ll see what else is around the corner of life.
So, as the soup is hot and I put the ice cubes in it to cool it quicker….I think of the lives out there in the hot soup needing some ice cubes to come along and cool things down for a little while. B.B. passed me by in the fall with a friendly greeting…..I hope we made a difference, at least as much as one ice cube in hot soup.