Monday, July 02, 2012

Drug Court...Yes, You Read That Right!

You know, the days at Casa LaJoy are always filled with interesting things, we are NEVER bored around here.  As I told a young friend recently, if I hear "I am bored", then Miss Cindy can ALWAYS find something to "unbore" you, and I can guarantee it will be so unpleasant that you'll think twice about every saying that phrase in our house! Haha!  I am EVIL!!!

Truly though, we never hear those words around here, and for that I am eternally grateful.  I have made it clear that I am not the official "Entertainment Committee" and I see how not meeting our kids entertainment needs has been one of the better parenting decisions we have made.  Consequently, they are content when they have time to themselves, they know how to self-entertain in a variety of ways from playing in the pool for hours to the inevitable Lego extravaganza weekly to playing imaginary superheros.  Oh we do video games and movies too, but we limit it a lot more than most people.

As I type this the kids are spread across the tiny bedroom floor for Campout Night, every one with a book in hand.  Miss Lael offered to let Matthew borrow the Harry Potter books which Joshie's  buddy got him started on, and he is finishing book 4.  Angela is reading a wonderful book I checked out which is Love Stories from NPR's Story Corp series.  Josh is reading an encyclopedia of DC comic heroes.  Olesya is totally surprising me as she is flipping through my borrowed copy of Christian Century, saying she is reading the headlines and the bolded comments.  Kenny is reading a fiction book called "Ordinary Boy"...and poor Dominick is sleeping!!!

Today though, was an interesting and entertaining day for a different reason.  We have such incredibly bright, caring adults who are family friends and always so engaged with the kids.  I don't know how we were so blessed to be surrounded by such neat people, but we are grateful.  Our friend, Judge Greenacre (the one we went to visit in Houston last summer), invited the kids to come to his courtroom this afternoon.  We went to visit Drug Court and to witness a graduation.  Not really knowing what to expect, we piled in the car and headed over to Delta to watch our friend in action, and to learn a little along the way.

What a thought provoking afternoon it turned out to be, and what lessons were taught without me saying a word.

We sat there watching as one by one, each of the defendants answered questions such as "Do you have a job yet?", "What will you do to have a sober 4th of July?",  "Have you regained custody of your child/children yet?" and many more.  We heard a litany of depressing circumstances, and saw a parade of very young children...many seeing their moms and dads in court as part of their weekly visitation.

Compassion and encouragement also filled the courtroom, and we quickly saw exactly why our dear friend is someone we so love and admire.  Here is our amazingly well educated friend who is a judge, rising from the bench and giving a personal standing ovation for each and every person before him who is celebrating their sobriety, whether it be literally 4 days, or 300 days.  His very humanness, his desire to see the sorrow before him change to pride and accomplishment, his clear concern for all who came before him helped us view him in a new light, and for me personally it almost brought tears to my eyes.

It  was a very strong reminder that we are ALL engaged in ministry, should we so accept God's call in our life, not matter what role we have.  We can be the cashier at Walmart and minster to those we encounter, just as easily as a judge can minister to those who come before him or her.  God uses us all, and can use us in powerful ways if we are open to it.  You don't have to bear the title of "pastor" or "reverend" to be a true minister.  I know a bartender who is absolutely a gift in the lives of those who ask for another round.  I know a web site designer who donates her time and talent for all sorts of causes she believes in.  I know several teachers whose efforts change the world for the children they work with. And I even know a Car Wash Guy who has been known to make a difference in the lives of those who work with him, as he nurtures immaturity into maturity, or tells people working at minimum wage level that he truly believes in them and tries to help them see their own potential.

As we pulled away from the courthouse at the end of the afternoon, I asked the kids what they noticed, and we learned the word "demographics".  Quickly it was noted by all the kids that almost all were unemployed and had been for quite some time.  As they discovered from Judge Greenacre, many drug cases involved people whose educational level is extremely low with most not graduating high school. We all talked about how there is this fallacy that most drug addicts are African American or Hispanic, but we saw largely Caucasian folks there...and the word "stereotype" was introduced.  I also told them that even though certain " demographics" were strong indicators of issues like this, you couldn't let it fool you and that there were plenty of middle or upper class addicts as well.

What saddened every one of the kids was to count up all the children who were in foster care and not living with their parents, all because of drug addiction. Angela noted that it was highly likely that those children too were at high risk to repeat the same mistakes.  I looked over at her and said "But it doesn't have to happen.  If kids recognize the mistakes their parents made and commit themselves to living life differently, it doesn't have to happen."  She thought about that a bit and then said "But Mom, don't you think it is really hard for a kid to even understand that, or know that life can be different if that is all they know?"  then she added "And I think it is really important for those kids to have someone come into their life who can help them see things differently, and make them see life can be different.  They need someone like you and Dad, like what you have done for Olesya and me."

We spent the next 10 minutes talking honestly about her parents, their mistakes, and how the life she and Olesya live can be absolutely different, and that I expect it to be.  We talked about her own wisdom, how she already can see the things that lead to drug and alcohol abuse, and how much she and Olesya both have going for them...intellect, a living family to now support them, a network of caring adults surrounding them, a good work ethic, caring hearts, and so much more.  I suggested that maybe her own mom never had any of that, and it would have been very hard for her to create a different sort of life.  That got her thinking, then she said "There is no way I am going to let this keep repeating itself.  I will never do to my kids what my mom did to us.  If I start to go the wrong way, Mom, you need to be stricter than you have ever been with me, because I really don't want to be that kind of person.  Do you promise you'll be tough with me?"  I replied with a reassuring grin, "I think I can handle that.  Have you ever known me to be wimpy?  I promise you I will do everything in my power to keep you moving in the right direction, and I'll never give up on you two."  She looked back at me with such a serious look and said "I don't think any other mom could ever have stood up to me perfectly the way you know just when to be soft, and just when not to put up with me.  With you and Dad, I think we can make sure our own families are good ones, and that we don't repeat things." that was a little heavy.

We may not have gotten any language arts done today, but I'd say it was a far more important pursuit than writing a paper or diagramming sentences. We saw first hand the consequences of dangerous behavior, and it wasn't pretty.  We heard the sorrow and the struggles, we caught a whiff of the helplessness and the hopelessness.  We saw real people with serious problems, all wanting to work their way out of it and some simply not having the skills to do so easily.

Yup, a very instructive field trip, and one that will stick with them for a very long time.

1 comment:

Lindsay said...

Wow, but your Angela is one amazingly insightful young lady. Incredible.