Levin is the eight-year-old boy who ran away from the hogar on his very first day (you can read about it here). He was trying to go to the city where he had been living a state-run temporary children's home to get back to his little brother. He agreed to stay at the hogar on the condition that we would bring his brother. The team here had been working on bringing his brother even before Levin arrived at the end of August. Levin had adjusted to living at Amigos and seemed happy, but he never stopped asking about his brother. Now finally, at the beginning of November, he was coming.
I had gotten the news before we left for our vacation and thank goodness we left. I wasn't allowed to tell Levin, just in case it didn't work out, and I don't think I would have been able to contain my excitement all weekend if we had been here at the hogar. When one of the volunteers told me the news, I surprised myself by instantly beginning to cry. I hadn't realized how much I, like Levin, had been hanging on to the promise of his brother coming to the hogar, how I had been storing up in my heart all the times Levin said something like, "He's very very little, my little brother. Much younger than me; he's 6. When is he coming?"
That Sunday night after dinner, I learned that I had been given the day off from teaching so that I could go into the city with Levin to pick up his brother from the court. I was elated. The next morning we were on the road by 6 a.m. I've never seen Levin sit so erect and still for so long in his life, but for the first half hour of the car ride, he barely budged. Sitting in the middle of the back seat, his eyes were glued out the window as though he could hardly believe we were going, only moving to throw grins back at me over his shoulder every few minutes. Levin is a challenging child in a lot of ways. He doesn't like to listen when he's told to do something, he whines for what he wants when he's not given it, and he throws terrible fits over absolutely nothing, things like not getting his way immediately. He's gotten a reputation among the other boys his age as a cry baby. As I've gotten to know him better over the last three months, it's been hard to see the unpleasant side of him come out, even as he continues to adjust to life here in this safe, stable environment. But I'm still crazy about him. As we drove, I thought about how having his little brother around might help him grow up a little bit. I could see being a good role model as a powerful force in improving his behavior.