My son is 21-years-old, but when he was 14-years-old he got into some trouble with 3 other boys. Yesterday, we went to the Douglas County Juvenile Court to get his record sealed because today he is trying to become a EMT and we don’t need anything from his youth to pop up on a background check. While we were waiting, there were all these other boys coming in with their parents because of trouble they had gotten into. Every time a new parent came in I wanted to reach out to them and let them know this didn’t have to be the beginning of a life filled with trouble.
Matt was actually a good kid growing up. Starting at the age of 9-years-old until the age of 11-years-old, he had 9 brain surgeries. Due to all the surgeries and pain he was in, he developed an addiction to pain killers. By the time he was 16-years-old, he had kicked his addiction, basically quit high school and went to work. Overall, he might sound like a problem child, but he wasn’t. His demeanor was very laid back and he never questioned why he had to go through all the things he had to go through. He did hang-out with some bad influences, but who doesn’t. Eventually, he saw those influences for what they were … weights to his goals. The point is, he turned all that around. In 2016 he went to night school and got his GED while working a full-time job installing windows. Then last August, he started West Georgia Technical College in their EMT program. Today, he is about half way through and he has a grade point average of 4.0.
He isn’t the only one who has done this. Look at Jose Bias. He was a high school drop out also, but he got his GED and then went to Law school to become a Lawyer. Today, he is hailed as one of the greatest lawyers for winning one of the biggest death penalty cases in the State of Florida for his Criminal Defense of Casey Anthony.
It can be done. I was looking at these parents and teens in that court waiting room yesterday and the feeling was: “this is it”. I wanted to stand up and start explaining to them, parents and teens, this don’t have to be it. This is one mistake. Sit up (because most of them were leaned over and had their shirt pulled over their heads sleeping while waiting for their name to be called), you hold your head high and when your name is called, you march in there and let that Judge know, “yes, you were young and you made a dumb mistake, but sentence me as you will because I am going to march back in here in 6 years and ask you to seal it from everyone because I am not going to let this mistake determine who I become”.
Often, we as parents don’t realize how important our job is. Or we don’t understand how we handle problems is how our children will handle problems. I never allowed either of my boys to think that a problem should determine what you do or who you become. No matter how many problems popped up in my life while I was raising my boys, I always held a job and I always overcame whatever we faced. These parents in this room seemed like they too had given up. We can’t give up. We must continue to fight for our child and push them to do what they need to do. If school is dragging them down for one reason or another, then let them quit and get their GED and/or get a job. Sometimes, it is the institutions of education that bring our children down and it is up to us to show them another route. No, dropping out of high school isn’t one of the goals in life we have for our children … but if the school is hindering them from becoming something, then maybe we need to show our teens how to look outside the box. Those boys in that room were giving up because their parents had given up.
Today, my oldest is 23-years-old and he is an Advanced EMT with a little family of his own. My youngest is 21-years-old and he is in school to become a EMT (although he has his sights on Paramedic). I couldn’t be prouder of either of them. The troubles they got into as teens have been sealed away and they have nothing but the sky to reach. We as parents are to show them how to do that.