Turning Point / An Adventure
By joe navin
9 May 2010
We were inseparable once. I taught him guitar (badly) as soon as he could hold one and football (quite well) as soon as he could walk. I was coaching a team of local kids before I knew it. Good kids and we won a few trophies along the way.
When he hit his teens I had to gave the football up, unable to find time and headspace as the pressure of building a business to support a family kicked in. A year later I was separated from his mum and we were barely talking.
I'd let him down and he was angry. Not the best frame of mind to start your journey as a young man. In the week of his 16th birthday he got on the wrong side of a policeman at a party and spent a night in the cells. The following morning he was charged with assaulting an officer.
We did what families do, pulled together, offered love and support, found a good lawyer. Our man told us he believed our son was innocent, but that 9 times out of 10 a court will take the word of a police officer over a teenager. The offence was serious; a guilty verdict would mean a criminal record and possibly a spell in prison.
The case was scheduled for late summer, a few weeks after GCSE exams that prepare you for higher education in the UK. I could see two very different paths that our boy's life might follow.
To give him something to look forward to I planned an adventure for the time between exams and court. We went to Japan. To Tokyo for fashion, food, manga and people watching; into the mountains for a rock festival and four days sleeping in a muddy field; by night train and ferry to the Benesse House art site in Nao Shima; onto the ancient spa at Dogo; the reborn city of Hiroshima; the temples of Kyoto.
The photo was taken at Benesse passing time (next to a giant pumpkin) while we waited to take our first shower in five days. It is one a number of moments during the trip that were turning points in our relationship. I got my son back.
A couple of weeks later there was an even bigger turning point. He got his life back. He was a one in ten.