Wednesday, June 20, 2007

The bad boyfriend

I've been keeping to my strict rules about the Faye's boyfriend. He may meet her in the backyard. He may not come inside the house except rarely to use the restroom. No, he may not shower here. No, he may not go with us to the grocery store. Faye may not go hang out with him and his friends.

Faye has been relatively complacent with these rules, knowing that it is the best deal she is going to get and that if she doesn't follow them she will find herself moved to another respite placement.

The backyard is not a bad place. Though it has been getting quite warm even hot, there is a very shady nice place to hang out. They have just enough privacy that they can't be overheard. We can also see them well enough to know that they are still there and still clothed, but there is partial obstruction of view too. I ignore the amount of food that disappears from my kitchen into the back yard.

I don't let him inside for a variety of reasons. I do think that there is a real risk of petty theft, although that might be balanced by him knowing that if anything did disappear we would suspect him. I let him into the back yard so that Faye will not feel the need to lie and sneak off to meet him. I said as much to her social worker while Faye was standing next to me. Not letting him into the house, and sticking to that, is a way of communicating to Faye my attitude regarding this young man.

But I also don't let him into the house so that he cannot charm me, which he so easily could. He does not present as a dangerous guy; more like a child lost in the woods. He has a genuinely bad mother. He is on the edge of homelessness as he finds it impossible to live with her and so does everything he can to avoid going home. He considers himself homeless and generally sleeps with different friends. He dropped out of high school, is nineteen years old, and does not have a job.

Faye tells me his mother has given him one month to find a job and an apartment (suggesting that he is still allowed in his mother's house even if he does not want to be there). Faye is worried that one month is not enough time, and besides, how can he get a good job without a high school diploma. (It's really not going to be enough if he continues to spend all the daylight hours in my back yard).

At the beginning of her stay, before he pulled the stunt that put himself and others into danger, Faye was suggesting that I might let him stay for a while.

I understand Faye's savior complex with him. He does seem like the sort of boy who does need some parenting. He needs a safe place to stay while he grows up. He was not a foster child, but maybe he should have been. He could probably stand to be one now. He is in a terrible place: nineteen years old, no high school diploma, no job, no safe home. He has no relatives to move in with, no one who can support him as he makes the transition through adolescence into adulthood.

And so you see the other reason I won't let him into the house. I don't want to let him get closer to me. I don't want to fall for the trap that Faye has fallen into. He is a nice young man, and he does have the ability to move off the path he is heading down, and he probably needs help to do it.

But it is a long-term project and it is not a job I am willing to take on. Though I think it is possible that he can turn his life around if he was given some help, I think it is more likely that he would just accept whatever help he had and just slide more slowly down the path he is on. It is a problem that there is no place for young adults whose lives are so unstable. He needs for there to be something, even if he is not ready for it (which I suspect he is not).

So I feel for him. I see why Faye is attracted to him; why she thinks that she can save him and that he can be a good person.

And so I don't let him into my house.

Faye leaves on Sunday.


  1. "how can he get a good job without a high school diploma"

    "He is in a terrible place: nineteen years old, no high school diploma, no job, no safe home. He has no relatives to move in with, no one who can support him as he makes the transition through adolescence into adulthood."

    Precisely why Fay4e should stay in care. Interesting.

    I remember hearing about a program call JobCorp that kids were eligible for until age 24, free room, board and schooling. Yes, here it is Maybe both Faye and troubled boy would be interested in it.

  2. For some reason I have yet to figure out, kids almost never want to go to Job Corps. Sometimes they say they know people who have gone and those people didn't like it, or they don't like those people and think that's what all the people at Job Corps are like. Sometimes they have alcohol/substance abuse or criminal issues that make them ineligible. But mostly I think it may have to do with these kids having a primary goal that we (adults) tend to look at very differently than they do. These kids want to be LOVED, first and foremost, before they want to do anything else in their lives. And they go about trying to get this love they want so badly by trying to be in relationships with other kids their age who are in similar circumstances. They are preoccupied with getting this need for love met, and so are not ready/willing/able to pursue any other goal, particularly one that would take them away from the people in their lives.

  3. My dad went into job corps to escape an abusive home. He thinks it was one of the best decisions he made. I agree. It gave him the structure and the positive discipline he needed.

    It is getting even harder to get a job without a college degree of some kind. And the reality is that for many jobs there is a difference between a GED and Diploma if that is the highest education you have.

    I certainly would have to guard myself.

  4. I have that need to "save" people too. You are at least smart enough to keep him at arms length. I am usually not that smart.


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