Sockpants & Super Heroes: Full Circle
This is how Trevor C. entered my life and changed it in ways that I never thought possible....
In early 2018, Tyler asked me if his friend from school could spend the night. My natural response was, "Of course not. It's a school night." Tyler explained that this young man's single mom worked nights and weekends and he was not comfortable being home alone. Under those circumstances, neither was I.
He was like any other middle school aged kid - hyper, loud, and hungry. Fortunately he was also low maintenance which made it easy to have him around. After several days passed, I started wondering about his mom's work schedule. His responses were vague explaining she worked pretty much 24/7 as a caregiver for an elderly person nearing the end of life. More days passed and I started having more concerns when I noticed that every single day he wore the same set of clothes. I offered to drive him to his house to grab some clothes. He declined. Again asking for his mom's work schedule, he evaded a concrete answer. Fearing the worst, I finally demanded that Tyler and Trevor level with me. This was when I learned about Trevor's connection with a program called Heart.
I found information regarding the Heart program on our school district website. It was a program specifically dedicated to supporting the needs of homeless students in our school district. With butterflies in my stomach, I picked up the phone and made my first inquiry about Trevor. They weren't able to give me any personal information due to confidentiality, but they were relieved to hear that he had been staying with me. When Trevor had not been present at his bus stop for several days, they contacted his middle school and were surprised to learn that not only had he been present (and on time for school), his attitude and behavior had also improved. Through a lump in my throat, I asked his Heart case manager if there was anything that kept me from keeping him indefinitely and was told that this was acceptable unless his mom filed run-away charges, which they felt was unlikely.
I can't really describe the overwhelming and wild mixture of emotions that I experienced that day - sadness, anger, fear and uncertainty as I began to educate myself about the totality of Trevor's situation. At the end of every phone call I made, an internal whisper grew louder telling me that I was meant to help Trevor in some way. I reached out to my friends on social media asking for community resources that helped kids that were not in foster care find clothing and necessities. Within hours, my friends had rallied a complete wardrobe, toiletries, duffel bags, as well as money to help Trevor. With a feeble plan in place, I had a family meeting with my kids that night explaining that Trevor would be staying with us indefinitely. My only requirement was that Trevor had to be an active participant in improving his quality of life.
That was the day I became a mother again. It wasn't through birth, it was through need and circumstance. When Trevor had a behavioral outburst at school, I was the mom that showed up to meet with the Principal Assistant. When Trevor cut his leg and needed clean bandages, I was the mom that showed up to school to clean and treat his wounds. When he struggled with a teacher, I was the mom who worked through the conflict. On one of my many visits, a school secretary very emotionally pulled me aside and thanked me for taking care of Trevor. It was at that moment that I realized that despite his issues, I wasn't the only one that was emotionally invested in Trevor's future.
I'd be lying if I said it has been all roses and rainbows. For every day that is magical, there are twice as many days that are hard due to attachment issues that go hand-in-hand with with adverse childhood experiences. My hair stands on end when he recounts some of his early childhood memories which makes it difficult for me to be mad and hurt when he lashes out with verbal statements that cut my mom heart to the quick. Our days are often filled with sibling arguments, fights about home work, curfews and bedtimes. On the days when I question my god-given abilities to raise Trevor, I hear a whisper from my heart telling me, "Don't give up. He needs you."
Through all of the struggles and feeling like we are climbing a never ending mountain pass, Trevor is growing and maturing into the young man I know he is meant to be. His grades are better than ever, he has friends that he never would have been able to maintain because of his once transient lifestyle, and he is involved in extra curricular clubs and activities that have the potential to change his life.
When I opened the mailbox to find an announcement that Trevor had been nominated for a Chase Youth Award for “personal achievement.” I couldn't talk past the lump in my throat. "What does this mean?" Trevor asked. My mind struggled to find the words to explain to him that someone thought so highly of him that they nominate him for a very prestigious Chase Youth award. You can imagine my further surprise to learn that the nomination was made by my 15-yo son Tyler who wrote the committee expressing his admiration for Trevor who has overcome many obstacles in his youth to become the cool “brother” he is today.
After my son Isaac died, Tyler would periodically ask me to go buy him another brother. He wasn't asking for a baby brother. He'd gotten that in 2008 when his brother Caleb was born. What he wanted was his brother Isaac back. If you would have told me that 10 years later a young man, the same age as my son Isaac, would enter our life through the unfortunate circumstances of teen homelessness and fill the hole that was missing in Tyler’s heart all these years, I would never have believed it possible. But that is exactly what happened.
To bring this story full circle, our family will be supporting Trevor on March 28th as he is recognized as one of the deserving nominees of the Chase Youth Awards at the Fox Theatre. Why is this full circle, you ask? I'm glad you asked. March 28th would have been my son Isaac's 16th birthday and instead of surviving another missed birthday, we will be celebrating Trevor and all of his personal achievements. I know now that the whisper of my heart is Isaac guiding me and giving me the strength to keep on fighting for Trevor.
Whenever I feel Trevor pushing me away, I hear the words to this song play in my head: Never Gonna Let you Down by Colbie Caillat. My hope is that if he listens to it often enough he will never doubt that I'm never gonna let him down.
Holly Bahme-Lytle is the Exec. Director of The ISAAC Foundation, a Spokane-based autism non-profit she founded in memory of her son Isaac who passed away in 2007. In her free time, Holly enjoys chronicling her many adventures of motherhood mishaps raising her three biological and one bonus son who joined their family in early 2018. Holly shares these stories in this blog and many more hair-raising experiences on her Sockpants & Super Hero social media pages.