Monday, October 09, 2006

Carl's Story 1: The beginning

I guess it is time that I tried to tell the whole story from memory. The problem is that I don't have emails from the time that he lived with us. Everything will have to come from memory.

So how did I meet him? Was it as early as 1999? I have this vague memory of being introduced to him in the hall outside the classrooms in the Church. Except I am not certain if that conversation was one in which I asked if he babysat. Perhaps I already knew him.

I was teaching a Sunday School class for high school kids. We would visit another house of worship on week and have a visitor from the church come the Sunday before or after. We went to half a dozen or so Protestant Churches (Methodist, Presbyterian, Lutheran, Friends, a charismatic Pentecostal church), the Roman Catholic Church, the Synagogue, the Buddhist Temple, an LDS church, and the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship. We tried to visit the Mosque, but their hours and our availability never matched up. We talked about theology and architecture. By the end of the year they could walk into a Christian church look around and figure out the most central tenets of their theology.

It was a fun class, and Carl was the only boy. There were other high school boys in the church, but they did not go to class.

I remember that he teased the girls and that I thought he was young and puppy-like around them. I did think he was flirting with them.

We had some really good experiences in that class. In the synagogue they got out the horn (oh...I should remember the name!) and let the kids blow it. At the Buddhist temple the priest said that in honor of our visit he was, on the spur of the moment, changing his sermon to talk about some basic concepts that probably everyone should have reviewed anyway. (Updated: FosterAbba left the name of the horn in the comments: it is a shofar. The one they let us blow was about 3 feet long. Very impressive.)

The Friends church we went to was a real, old fashioned circle of silence. I had to glare the at kids, particularly Carl, a couple of times when they started elbowing and pointing, but they didn't say a word. At the end of the hour they practically cheered and wanted to be praised. They seem to have forgotten that they were there to learned. The Friends themselves were very kind about it, shook their hands and congratulated them. The kids then insisted that I simply had to take them out and buy them coffee as a reward.

The second year I showed them movies that can be seen as Christian allegories. Some of the parents came to the showing of the Matrix after I sent a note home saying that I was going to fast forward through all the violent parts.

When I told them I was going to show The Iron Giant one of the kids said that she heard that it was "so gay." I was genuinely confused about her comment. I said that whoever told her that must have been mistaken because there were no gay characters or themes in the movie. They laughed and told me that that was not what they meant. More confused I had them explain. Once I finally got that "gay" was "stupid" I told them that I found that extremely disturbing. No one used the word that way again. I now remember that scene with Carl grinning and trying to hide it. I wonder if that is a part of the memory that was always there and I just when you re-watch a movie and see something in the background you did not see the first time, or if it is an edit I made to the memory. I do know that when his social worker told us that he was gay I remembered this moment and was so very glad I had handled it the way I did.

I remember that Carl had lied to me about something. I forget what, but I was furious. I called his house and politely asked if I could speak to him. Then I laid into him. He responded to me in a very polite voice, clearly designed to disguise to his then-parents what the conversation really was about.

Hubby knew Carl because he was elected as youth representative to the church board.

We asked him to babysit. He was not the best babysitter from our perspective. Unlike some of the girls he could not be relied on to remember to feed the kids and certainly never straightened up at all. But the boys loved him and so we hired him when we were leaving for shorter periods of time and made certain that we had already fed the kids or left money to order a pizza. He could be counted on to remember to order a pizza.

And then it all started.

Part 2: Transitions

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