when your kid’s life goes wrong- whose fault is it?

a week ago, i got the news from my cousin that our 18-year-old cousin was rushed to Bacolod because his condition was critical after he got shot on the head (it turned out that that news was partly true. he was shot around the area of his spinal cord- though both instances are quite chilling actually).

we were eating our lunch then when that news came up. my 20 year-old brother merely shook his head and murmured, “they shouldn’t have bailed him out.” my other cousins nodded in agreement. “he brought it upon himself.”

we are not terrible cousins- in fact, the family ties that bind all of us is typically very filipino. we meddle in each other’s personal affairs so efficiently that there was never- in my entire 29 years- an uncomfortable friction between families. but this particular cousin of mine has brought so much pain and trouble to the family- most especially to his mother- that we come into agreement that yes, he brought it upon himself. if he stayed out of the gang fights, he would have been in a much better shape. but he wasted his teenage life playing with fire and thinking he is invincible. what the fuck was he thinking?

the bullet hit a part of his spinal cord that causes him a stroke. at this point, it was not yet known if the stroke was permanent or temporary. but at this point, he couldn’t feel anything from the waist down. “so, now, not only does auntie go through this horrific moment, she would now have to take care of him every day.” another cousin of mine spoke up. we all seem to agree he deserved it and that perhaps, it is better that he cannot walk again because that would make him stop for sure. but we also did find it unfair that up to this point, he only makes it harder for his mum who by the way has more than enough share of troubles to worry already.

where did he go wrong? who is to blame?

this isn’t the first time i asked such question. when a kid’s life goes wrong- whose fault is it? is poverty a triggering factor? are parents responsible? do friends have the biggest influence in a teenager’s life? and how do kids pick friends, anyway? i can’t remember how i picked mine.

but take this other fact for a moment. the younger brother of this same cousin of mine is not only staying away from gangs but also work his ass off so he can earn enough money to pay for his enrollment. he’s a year or two younger but his awareness of the options in front of him is amazingly sharp. he knew nothing good will come out of accepting poverty and getting immersed by it and so he decided to leave it behind someday. he refused to be dragged down by it and it shows- this is one cousin i am most proud of and i truly believe that he will go far.

both boys grew up in the same environment. both boys were bore by the same parents. both boys were given the same opportunities and threats. but both reacted differently. that scares the shit out of me because there seem to be no surest way of raising a kid successfully- especially when poverty is involved. perhaps, we should ought to stop thinking that teenagers do not know what they are doing most of the time and maybe perhaps, they would be more responsible for the choices they make.

i feel sorry for my aunt more than i feel sorry for my wounded cousin. i have given the latter a lot of chances to prove himself differently but he never grabbed that opportunity. he continued to think he was invincible and alone in the world- dismissing any fact that yes, there are actually people like his mother who gets hurt everytime he puts his life in danger or if he puts other’s lives in danger.

there is a large chance he can never walk again. i wonder how we will grow up from now on. will he be bitter, resentful, repenting? will he change his life for the better and turn his life around?

i hope he knows he always have a choice.

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