Not Like My Father This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.


   There'sa photograph that, to the careless observer, seems to depict a father and son inplayful harmony. When I look at it, however, I see a young boy trying to step outof his father's shadow. I see a child facing the odds against him and confrontinghis problems head on. Although I have overcome many obstacles and can look backwithout regret, I feel cornered with my back against a wall. In a household offive, I am the oldest of three, and under "my father's roof," I feeltrapped.

Ironically, the adult who always told me to stay away from drugsand violence introduced me to them. There were many times when my father and Iwere driving around and he would park the car and inhale a substance. He calledit medicina de adulto, which means adult medicine in Spanish. Then he would leaveme behind and depart for the store.

Like many children, I was curious. Iwanted to know what he was taking, so I would search to find the stashedsubstance. Lucky for me, he was never gone for long and always came back before Icould experiment with it myself.

On other days, my father would get reallydrunk and let his temper control him. When I was eight years old I witnessed myfather hitting my mother. He usually left the house after an argument with her.He would take me along wherever he went. My mother would cry and try to explainthe argument, but I was too young to understand what was going on. I lied to mymother when she asked me if he was seeing someone on the side because I thoughtthat my father's wrongs were right. These events became a cycle throughout mychildhood. I never knew what sex, violence, and drugs were, yet they surroundedme.

Surprisingly, I did not end up a mirror image of my father. As I grew,I became the problem-solver in the house. My father is still around, and stillfighting his drinking habit. Even though he is more supportive of me, I feel hispast reflects who he is, instead of truly accepting his new, positiveself.

I know more than he thinks I know; I remember more than he thinks Iremember. Never have I used drugs or violence.

I thank God for giving methe strength to make it through my childhood. My father is still an obstacle,since he forces me to prove to him that I am capable of reaching thetop.

By making it through high school I have already accomplished morethan he did, and I don't plan to limit my success. I have managed to learn fromhis mistakes and know what direction I want to take - the path without myfather's footprints - my own beginnings.




This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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