The doorbell rang. Looking through the glass storm door, there he was. The son I never wanted. I first met him three years ago at an intake meeting where his grandmother proclaimed herself an international expert on special education. His mother attended the intake meeting. Her first words proclaimed, "I'm an adult ADHD, (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder), and I know what my son is going through!" My first thought upon meeting her was an NFL linebacker. She easily topped six feet tall and probably weighed in at two hundred pounds. Honestly, she did not appear fat. Just broad shoulders, short hair, and very large feet. Of course, her overwhelming feature was ADHD. She went out of her way to maintain her ADHD as the driving force in her life. Through several meetings, attempting to address her son's academics or behavior, she contributed a long litany of events to her "Adult ADHD"; a broken down car, the loss of three jobs, never cooking a meal for her son, failed relationships, rain, sunshine, night, day.
Her mother was always on the telephone while snuggled down at her D.M.V. desk in Kansas. She once taught, for a grueling two years, in a rural public school. Then her career took a hairpin curve into a sixteen-year pit stop at the Department of Motor Vehicles.
Many meetings later, filled with accusations about the inadequacy of the education system, and three years of weekly telephone call updates to Roosevelt's mom succeeded in making him my shadow. For three years seldom did a school day pass that he was not with me for at least two hours. More often he blessed me with his presence for six-and-three-quarter-hours. His ADHD and immaturity ruled his life. Additionally, he craved the attention of any male figure offering guidance or discipline.
“Hello,” Roosevelt said, waving through the glass storm door.
“Just a second,” I said, trying to slip into my pajama pants. The comfort of sitting around in my underwear on a lazy holiday was erased from the agenda.
Roosevelt made himself comfortable on the couch. His childish smile dominating his face. My dog stood on the footstool barking at him nervously. She doesn’t care for visitors in her domain and cares less for them talking to me. “What you doing, bud?"
“Just running around. I came by around 9:30 this morning, but it didn’t look like anyone was up.”
“It’s a good thing you didn’t ring the doorbell,” I stated with fake anger. He didn’t need to know I had been up since 3:30 A.M. “You celebrating Thanksgiving with your mom?”
“Yeah, my grandmother came in, too.”
“How’s your mom’s roommate,” I asked? He came by several months before to inform me that his mom had announced to him that she is gay and introduced her new roommate, Wendy, to him and his newly pregnant girlfriend.
“How’s your grandmother dealing with your mom’s friend?”
“She’s cooking Thanksgiving dinner.”
“And ignoring Wendy,” he replied, followed by a nervous laugh. “She walks around like Wendy isn’t in the house. That’s okay I don’t really like Wendy, either.”
“I’m shocked.” I decided to let the subject drop. “You working?”
He lifted up his left foot to proudly display a tennis shoe covered with paint specks. “I’m painting the inside of new houses in a subdivision over in Franklin. My boss picks me up at 5:30 every morning. Man, it was a lot easier in school, not having to get up until 7:00.”
I could have steered the conversation toward the virtues of staying in school and graduating, but it would have been lost on him as it was several hundred times before. “Where’s Christy?”
“She’s at her mom’s house. We’re going over to my house to eat, later.” Christy is his very pregnant girlfriend, due February 21st. She had sat out to become pregnant at the age of sixteen to keep Roosevelt. Now it appears she will have two babies to raise.
The conversation touched on several subjects from his impending fatherhood to friends of his that had recently been arrested for armed robbery and the shooting of a convenience store clerk. He tried to take the side of the crooks, but even he knew it was the wrong side to take.
“Why do you think they did it,” he asked?
“Boom Boom wanted the street rep.”
“But they had the money and then shot the clerk.” He wrestled with why a seventeen and fourteen year old would commit a string of robberies and shoot someone.
“I don’t get it either.” It was best to leave it where it was instead of trying to impress my middle class adult values on a bi-racial youth trying to find his place in the world. His most daring crime to date had been shoplifting a pair of pants from an upscale mall store. They weren’t even his size. He wanted to impress a friend.
“I’ve got to be going.”
“It’s about time,” I said with a smile. He smiled back understanding my fake sincerity
“Happy Thanksgiving, man,” he said over his shoulder getting into his worn out car. My dog continued to bark until he had driven out of sight.
I returned to the writing of another entry for my Special Education journal with the knowledge I would never have a lack of situations to write about.
"Happy Thanksgiving, Roosevelt."