Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Illustrate the meaning of "A Man is Known by the Company He Keeps" (without using the actual phrase). (01/31/08)
TITLE: In The Wrong Crowd
By Denise Pienaar
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The school principal’s words echoed silently in her mind as Deirdre contemplated what to do about Matthew.
It was true. He was a good kid. So why was he always getting into so much trouble?
“You hate all my friends!” he shouted accusingly when she spoke to him about his latest misdemeanor. The incident which had seen Matthew and five of his friends suspended for taking alcohol onto the school premises. True, Matt had not actually been the one to get the liquor, but he had been there, which was enough to implicate him.
“I don’t hate your friends,” she protested. “I just don’t like the way they be……”
BANG!!! The front door slammed and the sound of angry footsteps running down the path assaulted her ears.
“…..have,” she finished lamely. “I don’t like the way they behave. I don’t like the way you behave either,” she added to the empty room.
“Oh, Matt,” she whispered. “What has happened to you?”
“He’s in the wrong crowd!” The words came back to haunt her.
Why? Why had Matt chosen this path? Why was he rejecting all the values that she had taught him? Why?
It hadn’t helped that Matt’s dad had left when he was only five and not been seen since. It hadn’t
helped that Matt was dyslexic and despite being a bright child, had battled to learn to read. It hadn’t helped that his school friends had honed in on what they perceived as a weakness, with all the instincts of a pack of wild predators.
“Dork!” they scoffed. “Retard! Idiot!”
And Matt had quietly retreated into his shell. Rejected by his peers, he had led a lonely childhood until he had found acceptance in ‘the wrong crowd.’
Deirdre knew that the battle which she faced was a spiritual one. A battle against the forces of darkness for the soul of her child. For five years she earnestly prayed without ceasing and for five years it seemed as if matters just got worse and worse. Five years of Matthew’s life passed by in a drug induced haze. But with the grim determination borne of a mother’s love, Deirdre continued to pray, and to hope, and to believe. And God heard her cries of anguish and honoured her prayers, for Matthew was miraculously healed of his addictions.
Today Matthew is held in the highest regard and has gained the respect which he so desperately craved as a young boy. He joined the National Sea Rescue Institute, a volunteer organization dedicated to the rescue of swimmers or boaters who find themselves in difficulties in the sea. He subsequently trained as a paramedic and has devoted his life to saving others.
“What made you start taking drugs?” his mother asked him one day. “And what made you stop?”
“What made me start?” he pondered. “Well, I think it was a feeling of unworthiness, a lack of self respect caused by rejection and a lack of acceptance. The trouble is, once you find yourself banded with a group of losers, most people begin to see you as a loser too and so that is exactly what you become. A loser.”
“What made me stop? A mother who never stopped loving me and who never stopped praying for me. That is what made me stop.”
And that, dear reader, is my story. For I am Deirdre and Matthew is my son. Matthew, praise be to God, is no longer ‘in the wrong crowd.’
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