I was assigned to the second house and met an 8 year old boy named Tyler.
The house mom at the Eagle Harbor Ranch spoke about how he enjoys the simple things in life, and is really intellectual. During lunch, I was sitting with him and he started to open up to me about his life. He brought a picture frame of him, his mom, his dad, and Santa Claus from 2011. He pointed out who everyone in the picture was, and made a point to say that he really misses his mom.
He talked to me while we were playing about simple things like school and his likes and dislikes. Although he was so young, I could tell he was wise beyond his years. He would ask questions about my experiences to learn more about the places and things I was talking about. He would randomly open up to me about specific experiences at Eagle Harbor Ranch. He mentioned that he liked that they had Minecraft, but didn’t like that the other kids were mean. He believed that he didn’t live at the Ranch; I felt heartbroken that he was uncomfortable and was unhappy with the way he was living and his situation.
When I left, he gave me a hug and said “I love you” and wished that I would come back soon. It was hard to tell him that I was simply there for the day and that I was not another staff member at the organization.
Later in the day, I was told that that his parents are divorced; his dad is out of the picture, and his mom was stabbed a few weeks ago. I was told that her condition wasn’t stable and that it does not seem to be getting better.
It was a very eye opening experience and it wasn’t easy for me to sort through my emotions. On the one hand I was heartbroken by the difficulties that Tyler faced and that he was unhappy with his situation, but on the other hand I was was blown away by Tyler’s perseverance and his willingness to adjust and adapt to the situation.