A man came in and one of our regular patrons, a teen who’s probably 15 or 16, came running up to him and gave him a hug. Turns out, the man is the teen’s father. Now, through two years of seeing this kid almost every day, I know a few things about him: he’s in foster care, his mom overdosed last year, he grew up on the streets, he was abused by several of his mom’s boyfriends.
So I was surprised to see he had a dad, honestly. But it became quickly apparent (to everyone else) that the dad wasn’t that into seeing his son. But the boy could not see that. He was talking all about his life, his group home, his younger brothers, etc. Then he says, “Why don’t we go to lunch? Let’s go to Wendy’s” (right across the street.) The dad goes, “Sure, let me go get my wallet, I’ll be right back.” And he walks out the door and doesn’t come back. At all.
This kid stood in the middle of the library for like an hour, then went back and forth between us and Wendy’s for the rest of the day. A co-worker and I ended up sitting in the parking lot with this kid for like two hours after we closed, just letting him cry.
This is a teenager who has seen and experienced the very worst things, many of them probably at the hands of his father, and yet he wanted so desperately to be part of his life.
I learned his name was Josh… I offered him a ride home. He said he was hoping he could stay with his dad while his foster parents were out of state. Apparently, the dad had lied to them and said that he would take care of him for awhile, and then he had a change of heart. Who knows. So I asked him if he’d need a place to stay. I knew I had an extra room. He graciously accepted my offer, and he lived with me for a week and I took him back to his foster home after they returned.
It’s been seven years since then, and I’ve known him for just as long. He’s doing well for himself now, and he put himself through college with part-time jobs he was taking as a teenager. He learned to program, and eventually, he got a job at a web design firm, which he’s been working on for a couple of years. We still hang out from time to time, and he hasn’t looked back at what happened to him that day since.
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