He was only 12 when we got him. Inherited, I say but in truth he needed discipline and never had it. But that's a different story. Suffice it to say he responded here, where he didn't with his biological parents, my wife's sister.
He had been with us for almost a year. I played hardball. I figured he was eighty percent or more of who he was going to be as an adult. I didn't have time to soft pedal his lessons on life. There was just a short time to give him the tools he needed before life had him in its clutches squeezing him to death.
The first and most important thing I impressed upon him was he may not like what I have to say to him, but it was sure to be the truth. Always! It was a consistency he never experienced before. You never really know if they are listening to you once their eyes glaze over. But once in a while you get a glimpse that you are reaching them; they actually hear you.
Part of the agreement for him to stay with us was that he could go and visit the bio-parents on some weekends, provided his behavior was good and they were receptive to him coming. I would put him on a non-stop Greyhound and he would ride about three hours then be met by his parents.
Well, the plan was in place, everything was set. We were standing in line to put him on the bus when the driver walked over and calmly stated, "This bus is full, I'm afraid you'll all have to wait for the next bus. It'll be here in about an hour." She walked on without waiting for a comment.
I looked at my boy and said," Stay right here, I'll be right back." I broke through the line and caught up with the driver.
She stopped and turned around to me.
"Uh, excuse me but I am here to put a minor child onboard. His parents already left to meet the bus to pick him up and there is no way to get hold of them. He must be on this bus or they will just freak out."
She thought for a moment. "Well do you think he would mind sitting on the jump seat in the stairs there? It's not very comfortable."
I looked at her and smiled, "He'll love it. You may hate it because he can really talk. But he'll just love it."
"Well fine then, he can keep me awake." she said smiling. "You tell him that seat is his. I'll be back over there in just a minute."
She turned and went into the terminal. I returned to the line wondering how to keep him from talking her leg off all the way there. Then I had an inspiration.
"Well son, I have good news and I have bad news. Which do you want first?"
Without thinking he blurted out, as I knew he would, "The good news!"
I said to him as I pointed to the open door of the bus, "You see that fold down seat in the stairwell?"
He replied, "Ya."
"Well that is your seat!"
"Coooool," he said, staring at the fold down seat. I mean after all, it was a special seat, no one else got to sit in it unless you were another driver and it was even forward of the yellow safety line! Then he got really quiet and said meekly, "So what's the bad news?"
I said, with just a hint of a smile on my face, "The bad news is, if you distract her too much and she wrecks the bus, you're the first to die."
He just stared at that seat on the stairwell of the bus, not moving, blinking or saying a word. A guy in the line behind us reached around and tapped him on the shoulder.
"Hey kid, do you believe everything he tells ya?"
If I live to be a thousand I will never forget his response.
Without looking away from that seat for one second, not even to look at who tapped him on the shoulder, he said, "Yep, he never lies."