At church, school, the soccer park or anywhere else my children might go, their behaviors may appear to others to be rude, sullen, disenfranchised, hateful, mad, disinterested, apathetic or many other negative traits might be upon their countenance.
As a public school employee long ago I dreaded children like these, their behaviors so off-putting that I'd be glad to see their backs as they were leaving. I wondered why their parents didn't work harder on making them behave. You know, me with all my college degrees, well I thought I had all the answers to the ills of this world.
I can see where a youth pastor, or a teacher, might feel they can teach better without kids like mine in the room.
But what do I see when I look into these angry, often inscrutable eyes?
I see their profound pain that they'd NEVER show to the outside world. Instead they act tough, daring others to ever approach them, making them sorry to even have tried.
I've watched my older teenage boys heave soul-jarring, mind-blowing, shoulder-shaking, wracking sobs until I thought they'd disintegrate in front of my eyes.
I saw two of them last night. Two others with mid-level sobs.
I cried myself to sleep, going to church with red, swollen, puffy eyes.
I cried silently through much of today's church service. No one saw as I sit surrounded in the back by my family, wiping my nose on my jacket.
I've absorbed so much of their pain and trauma, but I'm an educated, mature adult, and I can handle it. I have coping skills.
I pray that they can, yet I know from all my experience that it truly never ever goes away for any of them.
I can't take away their inner pain, I can only keep holding and loving them, praying hard that they won't act out too badly and ruin their lives.
Having come too close to a fatal disaster the other night, everyone is looking to me to calm the waters, but the waters keep rising due to the amount of tears being spilled, some however have been tears of relief that the worst didn't happen.
That they have so little regard for what they are worth to themselves, to this world, to our family and to me is alarming.
Meeting Fabian and Vanessa for a late birthday lunch yesterday, finding out they'd already heard what happened, and not from any of us, startled me, as did a text from another state of a former high school classmate.
Was this a wake-up call? Will there be a lesson learned? Or did it add to their immature brain functioning that allows young adults to feel so invincible?
As more information comes to light, some others in and out of our family are realizing their inadvertent culpability in what could've happened. Could they then have lived with themselves for remaining silent?
Did I reach out for help that night? No, not outside of my large extended family. I don't necessarily want folks to think even less of my troubled children than they already do.
We, as a family, are falling through the cracks, as our church makes changes for connections (how ironic) that accidentally leave terribly vulnerable high schoolers like mine at a loss. "They can serve somewhere," I've blithely been told.
Really? Behavior disordered, traumatized teenagers with diagnosed issues who need supervision? Plus they don't want to serve, that has to come from within. They can't serve, they are too mixed up right now, they need to be taught. They're barely functioning as it is. Not a great idea, and there's too many of them. I can't go to Sunday School and leave them to wander the halls. It's splintering our family to have some kids here and some another place at another time.
A home mission gets no respect, troubled teenagers are shunned, and sadly I do understand, so I don't blame anyone. This is why I just generally ask people to pray when they ask how they can help because if I know one thing, I do know that prayer can open doors for us.