As my friend dropped a few details about the woman, something in me twinged. They were small details, but immediately brought to mind this woman who I had met a handful of times at the centre. I gingerly posed a few questions, not wanting to engage in gossip, but also concerned about the situation I might find myself in. Sure enough, it is the same woman.
Now I find myself in a sticky spot. The woman and her family are new to town, she speaks little English and her children speak none. I thought it would be nice for her and her son to have an ally as they start school in the fall, but now I feel so apprehensive about it. When caught stealing, she broke down crying and admitted to being a kleptomaniac, unsure of why she engaged in such behaviour and feeling unable to stop. I hate to judge, but I also feel I need to be cautious. It is already affecting my own frame of mind; today we went to the school for a morning program for kids Caleb's age, and afraid that she might be there with her children, I left my own purse in the car.
It is amazing how easily we are controlled by our emotions. My stomach is in knots just thinking about it, and I can't even imagine what I will feel the next time we run into each other (inevitable next school year.) Can I trust her? Should I trust her? Can she change? How can I determine if she truly has? Might there be other issues and problems underneath? Should I write her off completely, or just for a short term? Funny how one small conversation, seemingly just a friend sharing a shocking experience, can all of a sudden change an aspect of your life so drastically.