Who Are My Role Models? This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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   I bask in the pool of Saturday morning light streaming through Mom's bedroom window. The Today Show is a blur in the background. She is methodically removing the seeds from her marijuana stash. She places the leaves into a ZigZag and rolls up her joint, fortification for the 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. shift she tortures herself with every Saturday and Sunday. She is my role model. I want to be the opposite of everything she represents. Success, drug-free, and happiness are within my grasp, not hers.

Dad is working in Southern Florida clearing the damage caused by Hurricane Andrew. He is looting the homes in the area. He called up and told me so. I wonder about how politically correct my family is and how I despise the lowliness we have sunk to. I am disappointed that I chose him to be my father. He made Mom addicted to marijuana. He is an alcoholic. Dad was in treatment, but I don't think he wanted it enough. He still smokes and drinks. Yet he was the better of my two "fathers."

When I was fourteen there was a trial to have my "real" father's parental rights terminated. I was old enough to take the stand. I sat on the cold, hard seat and saw him with his wrists handcuffed, the dirty prison uniform, and his long greasy hair tacked around his bald spot. I kept thinking, he raped a woman and shot an innocent bystander.

I chose Dad. He may drink and do drugs, but he doesn't have a criminal record and he can spell potato. I don't have any desire to be like him either. I want to make something of myself, not wallow in a permanent low caused by mental impairment or psychological problems.

I have chosen my role models from among my friends and teachers. I never considered my parents. They don't have what I want out of life. I want to follow people who have succeeded until I know how to succeed on my own. I don't understand how anyone can be successful if they follow people who can't find their own way in this world.

I am interested in politics because it allows me to voice my opinions, which are banned in my home atmosphere. I believe the things I write about deal with the politics in my family, but my parents just don't want to recognize me. They already know they are destroying themselves, my brother, and me. They don't want me to remind them of what they are doing. This family looks conventional from the outside, and that is how Mom and Dad want it to stay.

I am only seventeen, so I was not old enough to vote. I watched the race for the presidency closely, despite my age. I noticed that some of the candidates made good points about the educational system, defense spending, the deficit, and the economy. Most of the time though, they didn't offer solutions; they critiqued the nation. The candidates ought to be reporters. I wish I could have told them, "The people know what is wrong. They don't know how to fix it. The people want solutions."

All of the presidential and vice presidential candidates seemed to spin their wheels on solutions. They made more convincing arguments about what was wrong than most people, but nothing else. I have thought of the family issues platform of the Republicans. I believe Dan Quayle was trying to make a point. He believed that a single parent isn't a good role model. He went about it in the wrong way. Most kids I know don't want to be like their parents even if their parents are wonderful. They have their own dreams and desires that their parents don't understand or can't help them obtain. Most of us could benefit from having strong business leaders or other successful people volunteer time to students in school.

Right now, the society isn't strong enough to reform parents and make them better role models. Somehow the slack has to be taken up, so more people would come out right. Criticizing doesn't help; people know what they are doing wrong. Blaming parents won't work. They are under enough stress without all the troubles of society falling on their shoulders. Many people don't think the problem through before they open their mouths and make it worse. These people are the mentally evacuated. Some have the right idea, but they criticize instead of offering solutions. Dan Quayle did that and alienated a major part of the population. If only he had offered a solution, like reduced costs for education for single parents on welfare, or seminars run through the schools featuring successful businessmen, scientists, or politicians to give young people a chance to find the role model they need

This world is a bed of trouble and no one is trying to do anything to make the world better. The politicians are coming close, but they are afraid of the consequences of telling people the hard decisions necessary to get the world back on track. They didn't want to jeopardize their chances for election so they danced around the bonfire of ideas and tried not to get scorched. I think the people ought to tell the politicians the way it is. "Tell us the ideas and plans you wish to implement with the help of Congress, and we'll vote for you because you are not afraid of the constituency." n


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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