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Photo ofRaul Medina

When I was in middle school I would always text my grades to my father.  My father lived in  Puerto Rico and I lived with my mother in Lowell, Massachusett. At 14 years old, I had just gotten my first phone, and I wanted my father to see the good effort I was putting into my academics. I wanted to see his reaction. I wanted him to text back: “I'm proud of you.” “My son keep doing well.” But I never got a message like that from him.  He wouldn't even see my messages. I could tell because I would always text him on Messenger and the app tells you if that person read your text. I felt sad and also worthless because I felt like he didn’t care.

Growing up, my dad wouldn’t play sports or games with me or give me advice. I would always try my best to behave like a good kid, but it felt like he wouldn’t care. His mood changed a lot, sometimes he would get mad over small things that I thought he shouldn’t get mad about. When he got mad my dad looked like Hulk from Marvel Comics.

My parents got divorced when I was around six. I began living just with my mother and we ended up moving to Florida for a fresh start when I was nine.   Moving was hard for me because I only knew Spanish, but slowly I met friends and learned English and got used to speaking a new language, and was no longer shy or embarrassed about the little English I knew. My father, though, still lived in Puerto Rico and for a time I visited once every year or so. He tried to visit me once, but I was on a field trip with my school.  He tried to come to the place where we were, but my teacher wouldn’t let me go outside to see him, she said we had to stay together. He got mad and left. I couldn’t do anything about it and I was sad.

At the age of 17, I moved farther north with my mom to Lowell. I loved my new city because everything was different: the buildings, the cold weather, the getting to know new people. In Lowell, I felt good like I didn’t have to worry about a lot of things like my Father’s absence. But I kept texting him my grades. But he still didn’t reply. I kept looking at the messages I would send him. The more I would look at them the worse it would make me feel. 

I realized I didn’t want to get to college and be still sending him my grades and he still wouldn’t reply.  I decided to stop texting him because it was a waste of my time. When I stopped I felt like I didn’t have a weight on me anymore, I felt relief. I didn’t have to carry any more sadness, I didn’t have to overthink things, I didn’t have to think about him not texting me back. 

That morning I made my decision, it was a bright sunny day and the house smelled like pancakes, eggs, and bacon. I looked at my mom and I realized that my mother played the role of mother and also a father. I realized that she was a powerful, hardworking woman who had been through a lot. Instead of putting my feelings into a cell phone, I should be focused on my mother. My mom always asked about my grades. We talked about my classes.  My mom is there for me whenever I’m feeling stuck on something, whenever I need to talk, or I need advice.  Whenever I need her, my mom is there. My mother completes my sentences for me, she makes me feel safe and I love her for that. I’m very thankful for all the ways she has cared for me. Not only is she my mother, but she is my best friend.

© Raul Medina. All rights reserved. If you are interested in quoting this story, contact the national team through this website and we can put you in touch with the young person’s teacher.