We Are America

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My family was not a normal family. My mother was not that good of a mother and my sister had special needs. One of her problems was autism and the other was separation anxiety. My parents were divorced sometime in early 2013, I think, and my dad sadly lost the custody court case. He would only get us on the weekend, alternating between Friday and Saturday, in which we would get picked up from either my mom’s apartment or school or wherever we were, and we were brought to my dad’s apartment for the weekend. 
I distinctly remember helping my dad move out. The weekends when my dad got custody of us were usually the best due to how my mother’s house was like. The living conditions of my mother’s house were not good. One of the couches I had to sleep on was taken from the dumpster with a constant smell of cigarette smoke. I had to sleep on that because my bed was covered in mold. So was the bathroom. My parent’s room was even worse with dog and cat urine. It was not a good place to be in, sanitary wise. There were bed bugs everywhere. My mother, for some reason, would try to squeeze the bed bug bites off of me, thinking it would help. It clearly wasn’t helping me because my arms were swollen with eczema or bed bug bites. 
One day in particular stands out to me. My mother decided to throw a bottle of shampoo at me in a fit of rage. Now, why did she do this? Well, what happened was that it was a Monday morning, my dad was dropping me and my sister off at our mom’s apartment, and my sister freaked out. She got sent to her room down the hall. The thing about the hall was that there were constant holes in the wall due to my sister. These were never patched up and never acknowledged by my mother. So, my sister was sent to her room, and while that was happening, I went to play on the iPad. It was for my sister, but for some reason it had games on it. My mother looks over to me and she says, “all I do is escape to video games,” and she throws a shampoo bottle at me. It didn’t hit me, it only hit the t.v., but it’s kinda scary for a young kid. Thankfully, on June 20th, 2016, my dad won the court case to bring me and my sister to his place in Virginia for the summer. Since then, we’ve been living in Salem, Virginia for about 5 years now, and, honestly, me and my sister have improved massively since then. We’ve gone from starving, living on scraps, to pretty much overweight. I actually had to go on a diet because of how well we were fed. In fact, my sister got approved for living in a group home. While that sounds kind of bad, that’s actually better for her. We had a trial night just to see if she could stay there and they said that she stayed wonderfully, so we’re hoping she can get the help she needs. I love my dad for sticking up for us, and I hold him as one of my highest role models. 

© Thomas Hinson. 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.