My Teen-Aged Hero

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Her name starts with “A” and her brother’s name with “B”. Their mother died and “A” and “B” were adopted by the mother’s sister, who received foster care home payments and child aid to raise them.

Somehow little orphan “A” zeroed in on my friend and I having sweet rolls and coffee on my front porch. She demanded sweet rolls and hot chocolate for her and brother “B.” Plus, she gave Tiger, her dog, pieces of the sweet rolls (very civic minded).

Then the ante was raised to hamburgers and French fries (almost every day). When I told her to take home some cup-o-noodles, she threw them at me. She said, “That’s all we ever get is cup-o-noodles, and mom and her boyfriend eat steak and drink beer.”

I told a lady that “A” and “B” were starving. But the lady said, “They get good food, but they won’t eat it.”

Then came the ice cream man who sold shaved ice drinks and ice cream. “A” demanded that I get some for her and her brother, and I said, “I can buy it by the gallon at the store for much less.” I took two gallons home and thought I had done well, until the next day when they were back.

They told me, “Mom and her boyfriend ate both gallons of ice cream last night, and we want to keep it over here in your freezer.”

I went to a barbecue that the mom did on welfare day, and the kids both asked for small plastic bags or jars with tops. They proceeded to take food and put it in the bags and shove them into their pockets.

I told them that there was plenty of food, but they said, “You better get all the KFC chicken you can right now, because there won’t be any later.”

Now I was really worried and said, “If there aren’t any leftovers, I’ll buy you a bucket.” Bad move because the next day I bought a bucket of chicken.

Then the mom moved to Utah, and I was told that she was doing fine and had “straightened up.” The kids visited and seemed healthy and well. Then years passed.

The next thing I heard was that the kids had been taken away from the mom, and her boyfriend was in jail.

Miss “A” had been summoned to the counselor’s office because her brother “B” was absent too much and they couldn’t contact mom. The sister told them, “My brother is in bed and can’t get up because he hurts so bad. I think his arm is broken and no one will believe me. Next time I’m going to the cops and tell them you wouldn’t help.” Then things started getting hot.

In Utah, the Child Protective Services can’t take a joke, or child abuse neglect. Mom was given the choice to surrender the kids to them and never see them or their foster parents, or do time.

Now “A” and “B” are in different foster homes, and will be successful adults. She writes that she is out of high school and loves her new foster parents. Praise God.

Anthony M. Caldwell is a member of the writing class offered through the Cerritos College Adult Education Program. It is held off-campus at the Norwalk Senior Center.

Anthony Caldwell