Five weeks ago, one of my son's friends was kicked out of his parents' house. He asked if he could crash at our place. We said he could. We had room, no worries.
We opened our home to him. We fed him, bought him clothes. I loaned him my van, drove him to find work. I gave him money. We did everything we could for him.
He was recently sentenced with probation for possession and petty theft. We didn't know this when he first came to us. But we worked to teach him and coach him to succeed. We wanted to believe in him.
On Friday, he called me, drunk. He'd gone to a party with a friend and got toasted. His friend made him walk home. Terence called us from the cell phone we gave him to use. I had Tamara drive me out to where he was when he called me. I took the cell phone and gave it to Tamara, who, as we had agreed, turned around and drove home. I finished walking home with him, trying to get him to see how he was only hurting himself.
While I was walking with him, she was home browsing the cell phone.
He had a girlfriend, and she made him forget about every other girl. He told me he wanted to get his life right, he said over and over as we walked. The walk had sobered him up. He wasn't drunk.
When I got home with him, I explained to Tamara what Terence and I had discussed on the way back. Then I asked for her thoughts.
"I have nothing to say."
Now my wife always has an opinion worth hearing, but in the entire time I have known her, I have never known her to have nothing to say. This couldn't bode well...
So after asking Terence for his thoughts, Tamara finally spoke up.
"Ask him about the girls."
Girls? Like plural?
Then Tamara explained how he was sending girls pictures of himself in his underwear. Telling the girls what he would like to do with them. That girl who was the love of his life? Not so much...
This wasn't the first time he had lied to us. But after that big sob story on the walk home about his love for this girl, he was just a player. And Tamara had been saying for a couple of weeks that he was playing us. He had only worked one shift in the entire five weeks he stayed with us, despite the many times that I had tried to work with him to get a job.
So we told him that he had to go back to his dad's house. I said I would drive him. He called his dad, who was reluctant to take him back, but agreed. I left the room to go to the bathroom. Tamara went into the kitchen. Terence went downstairs to get his clothes.
Not a minute later when I emerged, he was gone. With the cell phone.
So I called and called him. After 20 minutes of calling, I finally got him to answer. He was about 2 miles away. I drove to where he was, took the cell phone back, and drove him home, telling him that I hoped he would make the most of his life.
We went to Minneapolis, and one the way back, he called me from his dad's phone and asked if he could come back to live with us. I agreed that we would talk about it, which Tamara and I did on the way home. We didn't come to a conclusion before our son had arrived home and found that Terence had stolen his laptop that night when he ran from our home. Not only did he take the cell, but the laptop was in our suitcase that he ran off with.
Today, Terence called me, wanting to get the rest of his clothes that he had left here. I asked him: "Where's the laptop?"
"You know, I left it in the basement."
Tonight after I got home from work, I searched the house, which my son had already done. It was not in the house. And Terence was nowhere to be found and wasn't calling us.
So we called around and finally reached him. I told him that he had 30 minutes to produce the laptop before I called the cops. 15 minutes later, he called to say that he had just dropped the laptop off on the porch. He'd indeed stolen it.
The irony of this is that for a while, as a juvenile, he was in a state facility. As a previous ward of the state, they set him up today with his own apartment and $800 a month - which is so not what he needs. He needs professional intervention or he'll wind up in jail. He can't help himself. There's no regulator on his impulses.
So there it is - the tale of an 18-year-old drug user with an inclination to steal from the people who try to give him a break.
You can want to help people, and give them everything you have, and if they won't want to help themselves, it's wasted. Odds are that Terence will be in jail within the next year... and that sucks.