-- William Gibson, All Tomorrow's Parties
So my uncle died last year. He was drunk and riding his motorcycle, and took a corner too fast. After passing a fire engine on its way to a fire, he greased himself over a few dozen feet of asphalt and dirt.
He left behind a crackwhore girlfriend, her fourteen year old daughter, Allison, by another man, and their seven year old son, Zach.
At the funeral, this crackwhore woman showed up with balloons, and told my grandmother -- the mother of her dead boyfriend -- that she was "glad he was dead." A real piece of work, this woman.
My parents were just going to have a very small funeral. Little more than a cremation. At that point my uncle was technically homeless, living with this woman sometimes, mostly doing mechanic work for friends to make money. They hadn't heard from him in some time, and assumed... well. The things you would assume. He was never a well-adjusted guy. He lived with my grandmother until his late 30s, he never really grew up. All he ever wanted to do was work on cars and drink beer.
But his friends, and apparently there were a lot of them -- in all walks of life -- wouldn't hear of a small ceremony. They demanded a real funeral. They acted like real humans beings, apparently, and had nothing but good things to say about the man.
When I say this woman is a crackwhore, I am not using the term as a euphemism. I mean she is a crackwhore. She spends weeks at random men's apartments, taking drugs, until they kick her out. She lives in motels for months on end until she gets kicked out. At one point, last year, someone stole her car, so she left the kids alone, in some dope motel, for two weeks while she "went to find her car." Allison took off and went to stay with some friends, leaving her little brother alone.
So when I say she is a crackwhore, I mean she's a fucking crackwhore. I mean she fills her veins with filth and does not take care of her children.
When my uncle died, the state starts giving this woman 850 dollars per kid a month. That's 1700 bucks free and clear. Over the course of the last year my grandmother gave her somewhere in the area of 12,000 dollars. None of this money went to the kids. It all went up her nose or in her veins or gods know where, but it sure as shit didn't come within a mile of the supermarket, a clothing store, or a bookstore.
Speaking of clothes. When the little girl's maternal grandparents finally decided to take her away from her so-called mother, they had to throw all her clothes away. And her brother's. The clothes were so insanely filthy they could not be salvaged.
The grandparents decided not to take the little boy, because they're in their late 70s, and the grandfather just got out of surgery for cancer. They're in no position to raise a kid of Zach's... temperament. I cannot blame them for this; dealing with a fourteen year old girl who is no doubt as jacked as her brother is more than you can ask of a couple that age.
For the last week my parents have had Zach at their house in Albuquerque. He's supposed to be at my grandmother's, but she's just too old to deal with him. He's very much the product of his environment. His father spoiled him rotten (say anything else about my uncle, he didn't amount to much, but he was loyal to his friends and he adored this kid) and his mother, well, was his mother. An abusive drug addict who did nothing to provide any semblance of stability for him.
I didn't know Zach was even in New Mexico until tonight. As far as I knew, he was still stuck with his mom in Crackwhoreville, Southern California. I call my folks to say hi, then I call my sister to see how she's doing, and she drops this on me. So I call my dad back -- who gives the phone to my mom, which is sort of what I wanted to avoid, but hey, at least I'm getting the story now.
My dad actually came close to smacking him today. The kid has no discipline; he'll tell you something is white if you say it's black. You can't take him anywhere because he'll make a scene. If there's a TV around, he'll totally block everything else out. Like I said. He's just a product of his environment. It's not his fault.
In all the years my sister and I lived with my parents, my father raised his hand to me twice. The first time I got swaddled when I was little and I don't even remember it; the second time I was in my teens and I seriously deserved it. I pushed him farther than anybody ever should have, and it almost ripped my family apart. So when I say my dad has an enormous amount of patience, I am not being facetious or understating the matter.
Needless to say, my father is not thrilled with having to take care of this kid. But he's doing what he can for him. That's what my father does. He deals with situations; he does the right thing.
The court date to determine if my grandmother is going to get custody of him is next week. What this means, of course, is that he'll live with my folks during the week and her on the weekend. His sister is at his grandparent's house in northern California. Allison ran away a couple weeks into living with her grandparents, back to her mom's house, and the courts said "Fuck this, no more money for crackwhore mom, and your grandparent's are now your guardians. You pull this shit again and you go into the system."
Considering how the California courts work, it's unlikely that he'll be taken away from his crackwhore mother even though she's a fucking crackwhore -- because my parents live in New Mexico, and she is, as I mentioned, in Crackwhoreville; there's no way she can visit -- which as you might imagine is a good fucking thing. In all likelihood this kid is going to get stuck with her and be totally fucked.
During the court proceedings for his sister, she had to write a few documents relating to her experiences living with her mother -- these are court sealed so no one gets to see them, but considering the situation, you can only imagine what happened to her. And Zach also refuses to talk about anything that might have happened. The kid can hardly read, he flunked most of his grades, his sister is gone (though I have no idea how much of an impact that might be on him -- I've never met either of them) and is about as socially adapted as a lemur on acid.
The kid needs counseling. He needs a stable environment. He needs a lot of things. Probably more than anything else, he needs to be swatted when he acts like an little brat.
My parents current plan, assuming that my grandmother gets custody, is that he'll go to some sort of "Christian academy," because there's no way he can put into the public school system in his current state. The mother, who only wants the kid for the 850 bucks a month she's getting for him, is of course playing the bereaved caring mother now -- at least until she gets her next fix.
And my parents, who finally got my sister and I out of the house, are both working on their second careers -- my dad started his own business last year -- and were enjoying being alone and raising a new dog and pretty much just okay with where they were at in life; they're now stuck in the middle of this mess with no real way to deal with it. You can't put the kid into the foster care system. He'd get more fucked over than he already is... and whatever else, he's family.
I had to call back and demand answers to get this out of them. I offered to help, but I have no idea what I can do besides offer financial support. I can't raise this kid for them, obviously. Hell. They're in their 50s. They shouldn't be raising him either. But who else?
There's no real point to this missive. It's just fucked up, and there's really nothing to be done about it. I just needed to relate it to perhaps make some sense of it.
Life is jacked.
Man, the fact that my sister is dating my cousin's ex boyfriend (who's ten years older than my cousin who's got about two years on my sister) just pales in comparison.Posted by: solios at July 30, 2005 1:35 AM
Bryan, Why not raise him yourself? Zach will test until he no longer fears abandonment.Posted by: at August 6, 2005 8:46 PM