My husband is a former elementary school teacher and has dedicated his life to uplifting children. My mom always shared a couch, a meal and or advice with teenagers down on their luck, on the outs with their parents or in need of shelter. We didn’t have much, but what we had we gladly shared.
So it comes as no surprise that our guest room now has an occupant. He’s 17-years-old and called us from a public library asking for somewhere to stay. Without hesitation, the 90-minute drive seemed a minute inconvenience. It was his second call for a ride and place to stay within 30 days.
Stories vary on his situation and at the end of the day mean little to my bottom line. He’s a young man and he needs somewhere to stay, somewhere to eat and somewhere he feels safe. I’m good with that.
As the weeks roll by without a request from his mom to at least speak to him my feelings are starting to get the best of me. Like one of my new favorite shows, What Would You Do, I find myself trying to put on another pair of shoes. No matter how I try I cannot imagine a scenario that would lead me to disconnect from my children.
Now, despite our willingness to put our money where our mouth is, the decision to bring someone in our home to co-exist with our children was not an easy one. We prayed, we talked and then we strategized. I must say that having a 20-year-old brother I helped raised has its benefits. So agenda item one was to establish rules and of course consequences.
I believe the definition of teenager should read “DRAMA.” In between curfews, phone use and chores, you have hormones to contend with. So he can only use the computer in the kitchen, there is no privacy here. I can go in any room I choose and search anything at this address. He has a curfew and he has to check in periodically, just because. He can use the house phone, but I don’t want these little hot females calling my house and the list goes on.
In addition to our family contract, I had to ask permission from the princess in the house. I mean a new long-term house guest means she has to share her bathroom, her milk and her juice. Although she contests that her bathroom is yuck and smells like a boy, she is okay with sharing her living space, but made it perfectly clear that her juice is off limits. But this means rules for her too. So far the biggest adjustment has been knocking on a closed door and waiting for a response. A lesson that was long overdue anyway.
Now having a teenage boy around is an adjustment for us all, I found myself a little overwhelmed in the men’s toiletry section in Wal Mart the other day. I mean who knew there were so many different body washes for them and I personally think they all smell the same. And I am still trying to figure out my new grocery list, which consists of way more milk and loaves of bread than I am used to buying at one time. But in the grand scheme of things it hasn’t been all that bad. There’s someone else to feed and walk the dog, bring groceries in the house and take out the trash.
I’m not sure how long he’ll be here, but I am glad we are in a position to prove that the art of helping others is not lost. And who knows maybe in time my daughter will even learn to share her juice.