It was chilly the day Jeremy arrived. The boy (whom I will call Jeremy) was wedged in the backseat of his aunt’s car surrounded by all his belongings. He looked so little and scared.
When the door of the car was opened, Jeremy refused to look at anyone or move. He just kept saying, with his lip quivering and his eyes on his shoes, “I’m not staying.”
After several minutes of coaxing, Jeremy agreed to tour the campus with his aunt. Throughout the tour, he kept repeating, “I’m not staying.”
Most kids find it hard not to show a little interest in things like the in-ground swimming pool, the activity center or the basketball court. Jeremy refused to look directly at any of them or let himself ask one question.
Even though the car in which Jeremy arrived held a fishing rod, and his aunt said he loved to fish, he made no comment about the stocked fishing pond he saw on the campus.
Jeremy’s only comment under his breath was, “She’ll never come back.” This wasn’t his first time to have to go somewhere new and start over. And if history proved true, no one would be back.
As soon as the tour was over, Jeremy darted to the car, and before he could be stopped, he locked himself inside. As his aunt would open the back door, he’d climb across the seat to the front, and then when she’d get the front door open he’d dart back over to the rear seat, all the while repeating, “I’m not staying.” This continued for a while until the aunt slumped to the ground by the car and began crying.
Jeremy’s aunt wasn’t a terrible person. She was just overwhelmed by a seemingly impossible position. She had taken him when she discovered he was being mistreated in a foster home. He couldn’t live with his mother due to drug abuse.
Silent tears began to run down the child’s face. He violently rubbed his eyes with his fists. He then looked at me and stated, “I’ll stay a week,” and climbed out of the car.
As the week progressed, Jeremy decided that he would stay for one month; however, over the last few months, TCM has slowly begun to be his new home. He has made friends, tolerates school, and loves going fishing and playing outdoors with his peers.
He never talks of leaving anymore.
If you would like to help us make a difference in Jeremy’s life, please consider a donation to Tupelo Children’s Mansion. You can donate online at mansionkids.org.