DETROIT -- About four months ago, she noticed a change in his attitude. At 13, her handsome only son had become surly and defiant, spoiling for arguments.
Then he came home wearing expensive gym shoes, claiming he bought them with money from selling drugs.
Saturday, his two sisters said he drove by in a car, boasting that "some crack head" had let him use it in return for drugs.
Later, he walked into his home with a plastic bag sticking out of his pocket. His mother grabbed the bag and found more than a dozen dirty white rocks of crack cocaine.
"I always told him that if I ever caught him with drugs, I'd call the police," said the woman.
And she did. But the police wouldn't come.
So the mother brought her son to them, turning him in along with the crack to officers at the 9th Precinct, near her home on Detroit's east side.
The mother, 34, fought back tears as she told her story yesterday in a stairwell at the Wayne County Youth Home while waiting for her son's hearing in juvenile court.
"He's totally out of control," she said, agreeing to be interviewed only if names were not used. "He doesn't do anything I tell him to do.
"He's only 13, and he's been a good kid," she said. "He was getting straight As before this all started. I feel that he's still salvageable. I truly believe that, but I know that I can't do it myself."
The woman said her son did not resist when she decided to take him in, but he did cry "when I sat him down and told him I was doing this because I loved him."
The mother, who works two jobs to support her three children, spoke with frustration about trying to steer young people away from the easy money of the drug trade and with anger at adults who supply the illicit merchandise.
"If I had my way, they'd be in jail or dead," she said.
She said the boy's sisters are a year older and younger, and the 12-year-old "worships the ground he walks on; if he gets away with this, she'll be out there doing the same thing."
The mother said police initially were reluctant to take her son into custody.
"I had to literally cry and beg the police to take him," she said. "I want somebody to make that child understand that for every action, there's a consequence."
Precinct Cmdr. George Merritt said youth officers don't normally work weekends and that special laws for juveniles prevent police from locking them up if they pose no immediate danger.
"She did the right thing" to bring him in, Commander Merritt said.
"I'd like to commend the mother. We need more of those to turn those kids in and put them into the system."