I was stealing by age six, shooting neighborhood animals with BB guns by age ten, and vandalizing by age 15. I don’t want to imply that these were behaviors that I was always engaged in, but they were present.
I was the smart and golden child in an area blighted by poverty. Most people growing up in that area would go on to be drug addicts and poverty-stricken adults. For many growing up around those parts, this was fate. There was no future that their parents did not already live.
Being the golden child meant that I could get away with a lot, however. I was never once suspended from school and never found myself in the juvenile system. I was able to steal, vandalize, and disrupt classes because I was never suspected to be a problem. With disruption, for instance, the teachers would chalk it up as an anomaly rather than actuality. I was off everyone’s radar.
By my late adolescent years, it was apparent that I controlled my parents and not the other way around. Their former behavior of bloody beatings and neglect gave way to deference. They realized that I was poised to become the first “successful” member of the family and they figured that I knew well enough how to handle myself.
There were spurts of antisocial behavior and delinquency, such as the time the truant officer stopped by because I was chronically “sick” (read: faking illness to stay home) or the time that I blackmailed a teacher into giving me an ‘A’ in a class I was not fit for, but in general times were relatively quiet. There is only so much an adolescent can accomplish until they are on their own two feet…