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EVERYTHING BUT – Long a child

Ridley Greene

EVERYTHING BUT – Long a child

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A MOTHER walking and driving the length and breadth of the neighbourhood and beyond, pinning up posters of her missing ten-year-old son is a most emotive picture.
It is enough to bestir the most callous of hearts. Someone once said a mother’s love was instinctual, unconditional, and forever. And while the dad of little Germain Jackman may believe himself to have good reason to question this philosophy, the fact is a mother’s walking the walk has contributed to her son’s return. 
According to dad Samuel Moore, it would not have been the first time Germain went missing, except this was the longest time out. Dad said his charge could be manipulative – a “troublemaker . . . even at his tender age”. 
Still, the absence was cause not to sleep – on the part of both Moore and Germain’s mum. Now that the little one is back, they can rest comfortably – or can they? How can this running away keep happening? Who is really to blame? 
The child experts (those whose pronouncements we can actually trust) proffer that children who run away from home are often subsumed in depression, anxiety and a sense of loneliness. They feel as if they have little support from home, and their answer is to get away.
They turn their backs on mum and dad and may even extend their rejection to authority figures like the teacher and minister, seeking comfort instead from others at best in another home, or at worst on the streets or in the wild. 
The experts say most runaways soon realize they have swapped a “bad” situation for something much worse; and they become prey to the unscrupulous and depraved.
But what of those children who run away for none of the reasons above? Who just do not subscribe to discipline; who want to have their own way?
As for parents, whatever the reason for leaving, the return home of a child gone missing by his or her own volition is welcome news. 
Of course, fences must be mended. Mum and dad have to be ready to deal with the emotional damage. They should expect their child will need first of all forgiveness, heightened communication, a clear understanding that supervision will be put in place regardless, and then therapy if so advised. And just as important, the little one has to come to grips with the actuality that this to-ing and fro-ing disappearing act simply won’t do.
Germain has reportedly told to his mother that though “nothing is wrong with up by his father”, he doesn’t want to live with his dad “no more”. And his father seems to have acquiesced.
Truth be told, Germain needs his parents, and any differences between them should not put their child at a disadvantage. Nor should Germain be allowed to “manipulate” any of them.
There are too many agents around for parents to claim they can get no advice on dealing with troubled, troublesome or “manipulative” children. If the pastors and prophets can’t pray the “evil spirit” out, the more sublime PAREDOS can help. There are a plethora of books on child rearing; and if parents don’t mind the risk, they can scour the Internet for ideas.
The point is raising a child is work. It calls for dedication, profound attention, patience and persistence. It demands time. 
Germain has hopes of being schooled at Queen’s College, and becoming a politician – I take that to be an MP. Avoiding lessons and living in the bushes of Lodge Hill won’t cut it. And, first, Germain must do well in the Common Entrance Exam on May 4.
If he makes it to Queen’s Collge, whatever he does he must not have Dame Elsie Payne turning in her grave. And if he does get into the House Assembly he must respect authority: the chair, the Speaker.
These things Germain’s parents must tell him. If they will both deserve his respect, they cannot stand for nothing, and not lovingly and firmly lay down the law.