ALERT!!! Please read the next post entitled ‘David’ before you read this one. Otherwise you’re going to read the end before the beginning….
He asked me how I was. I said I was sad. He said, “I want to go to Proniño.” (Um, what?!?) I said, “David! We just got to Progreso!!” He told me it was no problem and I could just come get him the next day. I considered that for roughly a millisecond before I remembered that he didn’t have the 100 Lempiras for the night. I asked Ann if it would be crazy for us to go back now. Before I had completed the sentence she was gathering her stuff and heading for the door. It had taken us close to 40 minutes to get from San Pedro to Progreso. It took 20 to get back. He got in the truck a midst a chorus of jeers as well as some encouragement from a large group of taxi drivers and guys with food carts. “Behave yourself!” “Don’t be stupid!” “This is a good opportunity!!”
We were all a bit giddy on the way back. (This could partially be due to the fact that after he called me, he bought a tube of glue to get super high for the last time. And the smell was quickly filling up the truck.) But seriously, the child was brimming over with excitement. I have no idea what changed his mind. He swears he talked to no one. But he was ready. He pulled the glue out of his pocket and said, “No drugs in Proniño, right?” (Nope.) Then he rolled the window down and threw it all out. (After we took some pictures of course.)
We arrived at the police station and explained what was going on. Since it was around 9PM they said we would have to leave him at the station for the night and then we could go to the courthouse with him in the morning. Ann and I were a little hesitant, but David was unphased so we said our goodbyes and headed home.
Still filled with excitement, we arrived at the station the next morning. As soon as we saw him we knew something was wrong. The first thing the cop said to us was that he doesn’t want to go. (Seriously???) And David wouldn’t look me in the eye. I really shouldn’t have been surprised. I’m sure the detox process had already started and I quickly found out that there were no beds or blankets in the cell, so he’d had a chilly night on a cold stone floor. Not too different than other nights, but he usually has the drugs to help him sleep. It hadn’t been pleasant. I wanted more time with him. I wanted to remind him that he is strong and that he can do this. But they quickly whisked him into a police truck bound for the courthouse.
He immediately went into a meeting with a psychologist. Ten minutes later I was called back and the man told me that David doesn’t want to go and with his age and his many years of drug use, there’s not much chance of success. I gave a recap of the last two days, including the phone call and the drive back to San Pedro. And I said that I think he deserves a chance. The psychologist gave David an ultimatum – go willingly with Jenny or go with police escort. He just kept repeating “I won’t go. I’m not going. I’m going to run away.”
Back in the front room, waiting for our police escorts, I was mulling over what to say or do as Ann pulls out a receipt and draws the first tic-tac-toe game of the day. Fifteen or so games later the score is something like 12-3. David is schooling Ann. (“How is a detoxing 15 year old killing me in this game???”) It’s at this point that he leans over, puts his arm around me and says “I want to go with you. I want to go to Proniño.” Phew!
(A little side note about games. As we waited for the paperwork – roughly 2 hours – we played more tic-tac-toe, yahtzee and put together various puzzles. I’ve always been a fan of games but now I’ve seen firsthand their therapeutic value. It gave David’s mind and body a distraction from the lack of drugs. And at the beginning of a 3D puzzle he kept saying that he couldn’t do it. But with a little encouragement he got the hang of it, turning this into a self-esteem builder as well. Not to mention the basic cognitive value of puzzles.)
Paperwork finally in hand, we headed to Proniño. I love this place and I love the kids, but I could see how it could be pretty darn intimidating for a new kid. I need not have worried. They nearly rolled out the red carpet for him. One of the employees gave him a quick physical – checked his muscle tone, looked for open wounds, had him do a few squats, then welcomed him to Proniño. He mentioned that he didn’t know if there were any shorts big enough to fit David and immediately two of the boys hustled upstairs to see if a pair of their own would fit him. And the best was little Walter, one of the newest, who had been following David around a bit. All of a sudden it was like he couldn’t take it anymore. He balled his hands into little fists, shook them in anticipation and then threw his arms around David’s waist in a big bear hug. Not only was it adorable, but I couldn’t help but wonder when the last time was that David had been bear hugged?
So, David is in Proniño. But he’s still a long shot. His addiction is going to be calling him back to the street for quite some time. And a child with very little self-esteem is going to have to learn to believe in his own strength. His first two days he kept saying that he was leaving on Monday. But he also talked about how his whole body hurt and he couldn’t sleep at night. I kept stressing that this is part of the process of getting the drugs out of his system and that it won’t last forever. By Sunday, things were looking up. He said he thinks he might be able to do this. And I got to talk to him on the phone yesterday. I gushed about how proud I am of him that he’s still there and his responses were sort of like “well, of course I’m still here.” They’ve already put him in school and he’s proud to be in 5th grade. And my phone call had interrupted an important game of marbles that he needed to get back to…
I’m so proud of him, and am feeling so hopeful for my long shot!
(To continue reading about David click here.)