“No legacy is so rich as honesty.” —–William Shakespeare
This past week we received a package in the mail. It was addressed to the parents of DeAndre. As I opened it up I could tell at a glance this was not some junk mail advertising. I rushed inside to share it with my wife. As I read the introduction tears began to stream form my wife. It seems that our son had been nominated by his former teacher for a very special summer camp. It is called National Youth Leadership Forum. Explore STEM. A education camp that focuses on Engineering and Science. To be excepted into the program the student must meet the highest academic requirements and have been nominated for exemplary leadership traits. I knew immediately it would not be cheap but I would do whatever was required to get him to this.
If you have read my articles before you know I like to start each one with a quote. I spent a long time looking for just the right one for this article. I searched Children Future, Sons Education, and about a dozen other combinations of the same theme before I found this one. I selected it because I want to be honest. I have some things that I want to confess, some of which are not flattering and a bit embracing, but I feel they must be said.
I guess I will start at the beginning. I am not DeAndres biological father nor is my wife his biological mother. I met my wife about five years ago and we just celebrated our 4th anniversary. When I met my wife, she told me he was her son. He called her mom so I did not question it. After a bit of time had passed and it was clear that our relationship was developing into something more she confessed that he was in fact her Grandson. He was placed into her permanent custody when he was just 2 years old. The child psychologist had instructed her to look at him as her son and treat him as such. This was for his stability and growth. It was not easy for my wife in the early days. She had just the year before lost her first husband unexpectedly and Dre was traumatized by what he had seen at a very young age. He had to work with some very caring children’s psychologist to help him control his rage and anger. Although he struggled with this he had no problem in developing. He was speaking in full sentences by the time he was 2 and could read before he went to Kindergarten. When I started dating my wife Dre was 5 years old we took to each other right away. I worked at a job that was 4 10s and was off on Fridays. So, I would come over on Thursday night and spend the weekend with them. Sybrena told me that Dre would get very angry with me on Sunday night when I left. He could not understand why I had to leave. When we married Dre was by best man.
Now the parts that are not very flattering. My wife watches out for me she protects me from myself and anyone else who might do me harm. She is a fighter. She has been her whole life. She has overcome things that would break lesser people. I won’t delve too much into her spirituality, but she is gifted in ways I don’t totally understand. She was the one that found out that I was diabetic and had been for a while. This is not hyperbole, had we not married I would have died. I had no idea of my health issues and when I was single I enjoyed drinking with the boys, probably too much. About 2 years ago she also wanted me to be checked for Autism. I can’t tell you how angry just the insinuation made me. Yea I was shy around new people sometimes and had some strange habits but to think I could be Autistic was not possible. I guess I don’t have to say but it turns out I am on the spectrum. I still struggle with this and the stigma attached to it. As a child, I was withdrawn had very few friends and struggled in school. 45 years ago, they just called it learning disabilities and had very little help for me. As a result, I would struggle in classes that did not hold my interest. I enjoyed sports very much but was not physically gifted I was tall and gangly to the point of being a bit clumsy. My lack of ability did not stop me from playing and when I did I played with burning competitive passion. It was not uncommon for me to throw myself into the stands to keep a ball from going out of bounds or dive at much larger and stronger kids to tackle them. I still am this way. If you play a pickup game of basketball there is a better than average chance I will blow something out trying to play D.
Some people are just natural athletes. They can pick up a game with little to no effort and compete and exceed with ease, this is DeAndre. He is everything a student athlete should be. He has been the best player on his team each year he has played a sport. His first year playing basketball he was so much more advanced than the rest of the kids that the coach would have to sit him for long stretches just to keep the other team close. One game he scored 24 points the final score was 28 to 18. Honest it could have been 40 points had the coach not held him back. It reminds me of the old joke. Who was the only man to hold Michael Jordan to less than 25 pts a game, answer Dean Smith. He played flag football also. He had touchdowns rushing, receiving and interceptions. He led the league in scoring and next closest was a 12-year-old that somehow snuck under the wire age wise to play with 10 and 11-year old’s. Dre was 10 at the time.
Since the theme of this is honesty I will tell you that the inner child in me is very jealous. A kid who is very smart to the point of not having to try hard to get A’s and B’s. A naturally gifted athlete, faster than most and fantastic hand eye coordination. A personality that attracts people to him. On a side note, this is going to be a problem over the next few years with the girls. All of this is not at all like I was as a child. I get angry with him sometimes when I think he is not working hard enough, because I know that the only way I could even stay on the court with most other kids was to almost kill myself with effort. I get angry when I see him finish his homework in 5 minutes when it would take hours for me to do the same, yet he still brings home the grades each time.
I am so fearful that I will not be what he needs. That I will fall short of what is required as a parent. That like my youth my best effort will fall short. I have come to love him like no one else and I bristle each time someone even mentions his biological father. The plan is to officially adopt him next year. Then I will be able to give him my name. I can’t express to you what I have felt over the last week. I look back over these 5 years and think how much he has grown. I pray to God that he gives me the ability to guide him and push when he needs to be pushed. To hold when he needs to be held. I think how easily this could have gone bad for him. I wonder what if any my influence has on him. I only want to provide for him and his mother. To make their lives better.
I hate asking others for help, It goes against my grain but this camp will cost 3000 plus. Had I had a year to plan for that I could make it happen but we need 500 by November and the rest by January. So, I am asking if you can help with any amount even just 5 bucks it will help. We have set up a GofundMe account. The link is below, and thank you for your help.