An inconvenient child

FamilyKids & Teens

  • Author Don Robbins
  • Published July 15, 2021
  • Word count 3,729

As a little boy, I lived in the small football town of Massillon, Ohio, with two wonderful people who were not my parents. Mrs. Rodgers was my aunt, and Jimmy was her husband. I lived with them because my mother could not care for me, and my dad wanted nothing to do with me. Mrs Rodgers was a kind woman who taught me many things about living off the land and surviving in the wild. My brother stayed with us from time to time and was often mean to me. Once he took a magnifying glass, focused it on the sun An inconvenient child

and burned my hand. Mrs. Rodgers passed when I was five, and Jimmy then took over my care and would not let my dad’s family mess with me. Jimmy was shady. He had a habit of taking me to pool halls, juke joints and sometimes brothels where I would play with the other kids until he was ready to go. It might seem like a bad thing for a kid, but that was an education I would never receive in school.

Jimmy passed five years later, and my dad rushed down to move me to Toledo, Ohio. It is my belief that he did so to keep my mother from me. I knew something was not right when my aunt, Mrs. Moore and her husband Mr. Moore refused to let me go to the graveyard to see Jimmy get lowered into the ground. I still remember clearly how my aunt expressed disgust towards Jimmy, but he took care of me and never betrayed my trust in him. Mr. Moore came to my house where I lived and made me give away my dog, BB Gun, knives, baseball card collection, and the few toys that I had. I felt much anger about having to give away the few possessions I had. Mr Moore had something evil about him, or maybe he had some demons that he could not shake. I did not want to go with these people, but I had no choice.

Mr. Moore had a hard-on for me. He was in my ass the very first night I in Toledo. They woke me up at 3 am and made to go out and shovel the snow. Upon finishing and putting the shovel in the basement, he said I did not do it right, and he made me go do it again and shovel the snow from the house next door.

A typical day in my new home started with my aunt telling me I was a no-good bastard child and that I was not worth a plug nickel. She would throw my breakfast to me and often it spilled all over the table or fell onto the floor. This woman made me eat it regardless of where it fell. She would look at me with a very disgusting look that told me in no uncertain terms that she thought I was a piece of shit. Whenever she asked me something, any answer I would give would be a lie. My brother and her grandkids could do no wrong. It made me angry that I was getting picked on for no reason.

In the evening, when Mr. Moore came home, he would start in on me. He would tell me I was going to end up in prison one day because I wasn't shit and never would be shit. Once during the holidays, they had all the family over for a holiday meal. Mr. Moore made me leave the house, and I was not to come back until everyone had left. I walked around in 20-degree weather for hours. I could go nowhere because everything was closed. I came back five hours later and found the house dark and the doors locked. I had to spend the night outside on the porch, trying to keep warm.

In the summer, I would leave the house after my chores. The grown folks didn't care about me, so I was one of the very few kids that could do whatever I wished. I spent a lot of time in the library and the Museum of Natural Arts. When I came home, I had to listen to my aunt's husband. No matter what I did, it was not good enough for him. I started learning how to fend for myself and figuring out how to read them. It kept me out of trouble most of the time, but I still received the tongue lashings. I did not enjoy living there, and I did not like that side of my family.

One day one of my friends and I were playing stickball, and I got hit with a fastball that cracked three ribs. Mr. Moore stated I was a piece of shit for getting hurt and blamed it all on me. He said nothing to my friend who hit me with the ball. Once, one of my cousin's and I were play catch with a baseball. Mr. Moore rushed out of the house and cursed me out for throwing the ball too hard. The thing is, she was throwing much harder than I was. That was how Mr. Moore was. I once cut my hand cleaning fish, and he made me walk to the hospital to get stitched up. He treated me lower than a dog, but treated my brother and cousins like kings and queens.

He and Mrs. Moore blamed me for being born out of wedlock when they should have been talking to my dad if they had a problem with it. Years later, I would come to find that Mrs. Moore’s son was born out of wedlock, but Mr. Moore treated him like he was his son. I find it strange that he held it against me, but not a man who wasn't his blood son.

He wrote a letter to my teacher and told her to give me as much homework as possible. She would not do that, but to keep from getting a whipping, I had to fake doing extra homework. Once I got paddled because a teacher caught a girl and me in an empty classroom touching tongues. I had to have my dad sign a paper that stated they had paddled me and why. Mr. Moore came with me to school the next morning and had the teacher paddle me again.

In the three years I lived with these people, I never received a birthday or Christmas present. I could have lived with that, except because they showered everyone else with gifts. I laugh now because they just could not figure out why I did not talk or ask them for anything. I never asked for anything or let them know anything about me. I was not part of that family, and I knew it.

My dad did not know or did not want to know how I was being treated. My dad was an interesting man. He was a World War II veteran, but he would not talk about it. I found out why years later, because of my own experiences. He was an outstanding bowler and always had professional type scores. Dad, however, had no interest in bowling professionally. He spent most of his free time drinking and chasing the ladies. That might explain why he never had time for me. The only thing he ever got for me was a pair of glasses, and that was only because my school would not let me attend without them. I felt no warmth from him. He was a glacier.

When I was 13, I would talk to a girl who lived a couple of houses from me. One day her father came outside and ran me off. He came to my house later that evening and told my dad that he did not want me talking to his daughter. I received a beat down because of it. I could not figure out why my dad would beat his son for talking to a girl when he was.

Why they did not like me is beyond me. They loved my brother, and he got into more trouble than I ever did. They treated my spoiled cousins like they were the best thing since ice cream. I asked none of them for shit, did not talk to them, and stayed out of the house as much as possible I wore the same tennis shoes, two pairs of pants, and three shirts for the three years I lived in their house. No one ever got me anything, and I did not ask. I never cried or felt sorry for myself. Something inside just would not give them the satisfaction of seeing me hurt.

I saw a beacon of hope with my brother, but he turned out not to be a brother at all. He never talked to me and he would give me a beat down if I made noise getting ready for school. That same brother did not attempt to find out where I was or if I were ok for all of my adult life.

It is said that most people lose their innocence in the days long after high school. Maybe that is so. However, I lost all innocence on one autumn day.

I put up with this treatment because I had nowhere else to go. However, one day someone broke into the house and stole some money. There was a hole in the screen door in the back of the house where the thief unlocked the screen door while my aunt was sitting on the front porch. My aunt's husband accused me of stealing the money and making it look like someone broke into the house. The man beat me three times that day with an extension cord. The third time he broke the skin in several places on my body. He did not care about what he was doing to me. When I saw the open skin and blood, I was not about to take any more from these vile people. I jumped up off the bed where he was beating me and knocked him to the floor, took the extension cord away from him, and hit him several times across the face. I had reached my limit and any good feelings I had for them had completely vanished. It completely opened my eyes to how evil and cruel people can be, even in your own family. I walked downstairs and out the door. I would not have contact with any of them again for forty-five years. I did not even return for the burial services for my dad. I had no emotion about his death.

I took to living on the street because it was better than being at home. The first thing I learned on the street was to trust no one and to let no one what you are thinking. . I learned a lot from the shady characters that roamed the dark underbelly of the city. The pretty people like to say that they would never eat out of garbage cans. I have news for them, not only would they eat out of garbage cans, they would like it. They would do whatever they had to do to eat and stay out of the cold. I met a girl who hung out around skid row. Her name was Pauline. Pauline introduced me to a crooked real estate agent who paid us to break into the homes she was selling or had sold. She knew what was in the homes and had us acquire paintings, jewelry, and other expensive items. She would take them to a fence and give us a cut of the money. Pauline and I became fast friends. It is hard to explain, but whatever that 'IT' is, we had it. We could not get enough of each other and we clicked physically, mentally, and emotionally. We ran errands for the real estate agent so we could earn a little money to eat. This real estate agent catered to wealthy people and her crooked ass had us ripping everyone off. She would tell us what home and what to take. She would take it to a fence and then give us a cut of the money. When I think back on it, I am certain that her crooked ass was ripping us off with our cut of the money. Some people would say I did some bad things and they would be right. However, when you have not eaten in a couple of days and you are on the street with the temperature 10 below zero, you do what you must do.

After being on my own for nearly a year, I made friends with an aging hooker who went by the name of Star P. She told me that in her profession; you learn much about people and she educated me about them. She offered to let me sleep in her apartment. It was winter, and the temperature was always below freezing around the Great Lakes. She did not have to ask me twice. A couple of weeks went by and she came to me one day and asked me to do her a favor. Since I was warm at night, I did not decline. She told me she had a friend that was coming over but that she would not be home because she had some business to attend to. She asked me would I mind entertaining her until she came home. I replied I would gladly do so.

Later that evening, after Star left the apartment, there was a knock on the door. I opened the door and there was an older lady standing there, dressed to the nines. She said that she was a friend of Star's and that her name was Gwen. I invited her in and she did not just enter; she entered. This lady had a way about her I had never seen before. She asked me to put on some music, which I did. There were not any CDs in those days, just albums and 45's. She asked me to make her a drink, which I did, and made one for myself as well. I was only 14 and had been living on the streets for a year. I had picked up habits that I otherwise would not have engaged in at this age. Gwen asked what caused me to be on the street. She wanted to know why I was not at home with my family. I told her I had grown weary of being verbally and emotionally abused by family members. I explained that my so-called people dragged me away from where he was living and happy, to the nightmare that unfolded daily.

Gwen lit up a joint and deeply inhaled twice. She offered it to me. I liked weed, another habit I picked up from the streets. She began asking me about girls. I told her about the girl who lived a few doors down from me I had been trying to talk to, but that her dad ran me off. Gwen asked if I had ever been with a girl. I told her about a girl near my cousin's house who came up to me one day while I was in the alley behind my cousin's house. I told Gwen that this girl grabbed my hand and said come with me. The girl took me into a vacant house where she told me what she wanted and instructed me how to do it. I did not object.

Between the weed and the drink, I had a pleasant buzz. Gwen asked me to come sit next to her. She asked if I knew why she was there, and I replied she was waiting for Star to come home. Gwen smiled and explained to me that Star had arranged for the two of us to spend some time together. I told her I did not know what she was talking about, being as she was much older than me. She broke it down for me and explained that she liked young boys and had given Star some money in return for me and her spending time. That blew my mind. I had never heard of that type of thing. My first impulse was to get out of there, but then I thought about how Star had schooled me and that I had a roof over my head and food on the table, so I obliged Gwen's request.

Star came home around 2 am and I asked her why she had not told me about the arrangement she had made with Gwen. Gwen replied she did not tell me because I might not have wanted to do it. She handed me half of the money she had gotten from Gwen. She asked me if we were cool and if she could make other arrangements. I replied we were cool, and that I enjoyed having cash. There were several arrangements that Star made, and she always gave me half of the money. Years later it would dawn on me that those experiences did not mess with my head, nor did I feel bad about it. It was a case of doing what I had to do to stay away from home.

That all came to a halt one day. The gentleman across the hall from Star called the police and advised them that ladies were coming into Star's apartment when she was away. He also told them she had a young boy living with her. The police must have been watching the building because one day they knocked on the door and ran up into the apartment while I was entertaining. They took me to juvenile detention and when they called my house and asked someone to come and get him, my dad told them to leave my ass in there. They locked me up for nearly a year and during all that time not a single member of my family came to visit me to see if I was alright or needed anything. When the caseworker was trying to figure out what to do with me, he asked if I wanted to go back home, my reply was that I had spent over a year locked up and no one came to visit me even once, not even my dad or brother. I told the caseworker that I did not want to go back home and if they sent me back, I would just leave again. So, I stayed in the lock-up until my caseworker tried to get me into a children's home. The caseworker thought a foster home would not be a good idea for me. So, I waited until the caseworker would take me to visit the children's home first, then he would decide. In those days there was no such thing as computers, and the paperwork would sometimes take months to process.

. Being in juvenile detention, I learned real fast you must stand up for yourself or the other kids will abuse you. I was brutal to anyone who might try to take something from me or turn me into a jailhouse punk. I would find years later that I had been so violent because of what my dad and his family had done to me. Some kids had their body violated. If they did not inflict serious bodily harm on the one who had violated them, that kid would be subject to abuse daily. When I first arrived there, a kid who wanted me to go into the shower area with him approached me. There was a ping pong table in the dayroom, and I picked up both paddles and tried to knock his head off. I beat him until they pulled me off of him. He had to go to the hospital; I got thirty days lock-down.

There was a school down on the second floor and kids who were going to be guests for a long time had to go to school. Since I was a question mark, I had to go to school. There were two young ladies who sat in front of me who were always giving me the eye and showing me some leg. I was nice to them, but all of my attention was for my partner in crime, Pauline.

Pauline was in the lock-up because her mom could not control her. She called the police and told them to take her away. In those days, parents could have their kids locked up if they could not control them. When I got picked up, the police called my house for someone to come down to get me, and my aunt's husband told the cops to leave me down there. I spent more than a year locked up and not one time did anyone come to visit me to see if I were OK or needed anything, not even my dad or my brother. It is a very sad thing to watch other kids get visitors every week while no one comes to see you. It told me they did not care about me and would be something I would never forgive. I never got angry, but in my mind, that side of my family did not exist anymore.

In school, one hour a day you could paint, weave rugs, or make ceramics. I was not an excellent painter, but I was very good at ceramics. The teacher from time to time would go outside to smoke. Whenever he went to smoke, Pauline and I would go into the supply room and touch tongues. After a few months, they sent her to a school for girls and I never saw her again. It took me a long time to stop missing her.

I remained locked up for several more months before my caseworker found a children’s home that would take me. I sat in there and wondered what I had done to make my family hate me so much. I realized years later that they hated me before I even went to live in the house of horrors, and that it was they who had the problem, not I. They say that you must forgive and forget. I say some things you can not forgive and must never forget.

Don was forced to leave home at age 13 due to emotional and mental abuse. He lived on the street, Juvenile Detention, two children homes, and a group home.

He joined the Marines at seventeen and changed his life around. He currently lives in Hawaii with his two dogs.

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