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About Jon
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1) using profanity or any euphemisms for profanity
2) personally attacking other commenters
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5) discussing politics
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Sweet Sixteen and Never Been Kissed
2003-12-13 03:00
by Jon Weisman
Note: The Dodger Thoughts blog has moved to the Los Angeles Times.

A life filled with trials began in November 1988.

The first few months were blissful, unfolding softly in the shadow of a big brother who was the Big Man on Campus. Big Bro was a jock, a baseball stud. From 1974 through 1988, Big Bro made the playoffs seven times, winning two World Series.

However, despite being born with almost every advantage Big Bro had, nothing went quite right for Little Sister.

The first year was a stumble, a lot of acting out. The second year, in 1990, looked more promising, but something remained amiss.

The more her earnest parents, the O'Malleys, tried to make things right, the more things just seemed to go wrong for Little Sister. They set high goals; that wasn't the problem. The problem was the recalculation that followed each failure, the desperation to solve Little Sister's problem through acts that bordered on shock therapy.

The older brother, increasingly distant, offered no comfort. The parents themselves grew older. They had had other kids, even before Big Brother. None was a challenge like this one. After 1994, a year of great promise that collapsed in a schoolyard brawl, Mom and Dad had just about had enough. They agonized for a little longer, but in 1998, they put Little Sis, now 9 1/2, up for adoption.

And then the foster parents ... sigh. You know about them. The Foxes. Something cruel out of Grimm's Fairy Tales. Crass. Callous. Dim. Wanting a kid just for show - just for the money. Sounds crazy, but oh, did they know how to exploit her! Like Mama Rose exploiting Gypsy. At the height of Jerry Springer's popularity, here was a family worthy of his dysfunctional program. Year after traumatic year passed, each reneging on the promise of this problem child, cast loose from her historic, proud family.

Little Sis is now 15, going on 16. People her age - people in high school - can't even imagine what Big Bro was like. Make no mistake, Sis has had to endure.

And now comes a third set of parents, her third caregivers since she was born in the reflection of Big Bro's glory.

These new parents, they have to be better, right? They have to be the ones that put Little Sis on the straight and narrow.

Well, a funny thing happened over the past two or three years. The Foxes learned a little about parenting. They humbled themselves. They hired some help, hired some discipline. They even learned a little about nurturing, and most important, they learned to stay out of the hell out of the way when they didn't belong. Call me crazy, but as a very interested observer, I grit my teeth with the notion that it's almost a shame to see them go, now.

Honestly, name the bad things the Foxes have done since Sis became a teenager. Other than lack of profligacy - other than not spoiling the child - times have been better lately. No, Sis is not all the way back yet, but think how far she had to go.

There may be no forgiving the Foxes for the damage they did to the child born 15 years ago. And certainly, no one's trying to stop them from letting her go now, even though they're doing so just as they seem to have gotten a hang of this parenting thing.

But there's a little quirk. An discomfiting little quirk about the whole process, this transfer that will probably take place a month from now.

Little Sis, an ugly duckling if baseball has seen one over the past decade and a half, may have a swan in her after all. But nobody knows what the McCourts will be like. And baseball, baseball doesn't seem concerned. Baseball checks whether New Dad has got the money. Baseball checks the crime books to make sure nothing's amiss there. But when it comes to character, baseball character, heck, there's no evaluation at all.

The McCourts could be good stewards. They could be great.

But we're just guessing. Wishing.

We're left simply hoping that the third time around, Little Sis finally gets some luck. We can hope. All we can do is hope. I want her to be happy next year, Sweet Sixteen.

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