Saturday, June 02, 2007


For the four years that I've lived next door to the Sanfords, I've known of Rodrick. He is the grandson of Frieda's sickly cousin Laverne.

Occasionally, Rodrick appears at various Sanford family events. He's more or less a young cousin to Frieda's children Jessie, The Bulldog, and The Tiger.

Frieda has taken in Rodrick while Laverne was in the hospital for the last several months. Laverne is back home now, but Frieda is allowing her cousin to rest by keeping Rodrick throughout the summer.

Rodrick tags along Frieda and family to all of their daily activities: garage sales, family parties, etc

In our hyper-sensitive, over-emphasized racial culture of the southern US, Rodrick doesn't visually fit in any of these surroundings. He's black. His wheelchair-bound, oxygen-masked sickly grandmother is white. And Frieda's family is mostly hispanic and Spanish-speaking.

I don't know the story of Rodrick's parents. I think his real dad is the boyfriend of Laverne's daughter. And for some reason they can't or won't raise him. So Laverne has legal custody. And now Laverne's health is failing fast so the Sanford's are his surogate family.

I've only been able to talk to Rodrick a few times. He's very withdrawn and spends a lot of time alone. Painfully shy, he's one of the most brilliant sounding kids ever.

Last night I was watering some flower beds in the front yard while the Sanford's were hosting a small, bud-light gathering out front. He came over to show me some new thumb-sized toy handcuffs that accompany his wrist-sized ones I inquired about a few nights ago.

I was trying to explain to him some of my plants by using dumbed-down language. Rodrick responded by using large words like "photosynthesis" and such.

So, he's obviously smarter than me.

Rodrick's going into the sixth grade this fall. He hopes to either join band and play trombone (because you can make it sound like a race car) or join orchestra since he really doesn't want to play a wind instrument.

I really feel for Rodrick.

Here's a crazy idea: If the CEO was to open the door for some sort of "big brother" type relationship with him, I may just go for it. I've always avoided those things as I never saw myself as a kid person (although, having my own kids have changed that). But Rodrick is about my pace and level of interaction. He's pretty subdued and quiet.

I can't imagine what it's like to be tossed off from a set of parents to a grandmother, then to a quasi-functional distant relative. He must feel real unwanted.

I'd hate to be unwanted.


Mark said...

I could see you as a "big brother" for this guy...just don't go Orwell-1984-"Big Brother" on him! That might freak him out.

agent wife said...

ha- you beat me to it- I was thinking about posting about him and his "sister" (another grandchild of totally different race being raised by the same grandmother). My thinking was that there is and is about to be a new kind of orphan. There are huge numbers of kids being raised by their grandparents these days. What happens to them when the elderly are too sick or gone? And for the next generation, who will pick up the care giving role? If our generation's parents aren't parenting, you can be sure they won't be taking in their grandchildren should the cycle continue. I've often wondered and maybe some day we will be called to be foster parents or even adopt. I had so much joy giving love and attention to Jason and there seem to be more and more orphans or quasi-orphans in our society.

Jenelle said...

I think I might ask the CEO to open some big doors for this one. It sounds like a Holy Ghosted idea.