(Copyright 2001. The Tattoo. All rights reserved.)
Making a permanent impression since 1994
December 3, 2001
For teen mom, holidays not an easy time
By Katie Jordan
For many people, the holiday season is the best timeof year. It means heaps of presents, free time and dinners that will give way to leftovers until February.
But did you ever imagine what it's like to take a walkin someone else's Christmas stockings?
Chrissie is a teenage girl with a 19-month-old baby tosupport. It's not always easy, she explainedrecently. But to make matters worse, her mother -- who's been supporting her financially -- has just lost her job.
Hopefully, said Chrissie, her mother will find anotherposition soon.
"In the meantime, we'll just have to limit off what wehave," she said.
What they have is not a lot. While Chrissie and herfamily have most of the necessities, she said, there is just not enough extra money to spend on luxuries that other people take for granted.
Christina said she would like to have her nails done.
But because that's not a necessity, "That's at the endof the list."
The Tattoo’s Christmas Presence aims to help teenslike Chrissie identified by social service agencies as especially needy. The teen journalists who write for The Tattoo hope that warm-hearted readers will respond with donations or cash to help Chrissie and other teens have a merrier Christmas.
Chrissie’s name and perhaps some identifying detailshave been changed to protect her privacy. But she is a real teen who lives in Bristol.
It would be difficult enough if it were just Chrissieand her mom, but having a child to care for too is especially hard.
"It gets really frustrating sometimes," she said.
One worry she deals with is her son's health, sheexplained. When the baby is sick, he gets upset and won't eat or sleep, she said.
In case of extreme illness or injury, Chrissie hasstate insurance for her son, she said, because, "They pay for everything."
She does not receive any money or food stamps, but,she said, "I made sure I got the medical."
Then there's just keeping the baby happy, often byplaying with him with his toys, Chrissie said.
Sometimes she takes him for walks to the park, shesaid.
Christina was in the Young Parents Program from thetime she was seven months pregnant un-til the end of school that year, she said.
After she left the program, she went to BristolEastern High School for a year, she said. But now Chrissie is at Bristol Central High School, because it has a baby room, she said. The baby room is a classroom where students' children can play during the school day, she explained.
High school is keeping Chrissie very busy, she said,and with a baby it's even tougher to get the work done.
"English is the worst," she said, because the teacherassigns too much reading. Chrissie loves science, but says algebra II has her so confused that she's "lost in the clouds right now."
"School is the most important thing to me," she said.
She wants to go to college so she can live comfortablyas a dental hygienist, she said.
Between school and taking care of the baby, Chrissiedoesn't have much free time for herself, she said.
But luckily her family is there to help.
Her brother and sisters are always ready to watch herson for her when she needs to do work or just have some time to herself, she said.
Her mother supported her from the very beginning, andeven her baby helps out by being well-behaved, she said.
Unfortunately, the child's father isn't around muchanymore, said Chrissie. "It kills me when he asks for his father and he's not there," she said.
Many of Chrissie's old friends aren't around mucheither.
Before she was pregnant, she said, she had lots offriends. But then, she said, "I realized who my real friends are." Only one of them stuck by her side, she said.
So life isn't easy for Chrissie, and now her family'sonly source of income, her mother's job, has vanished.
Chrissie said that she doesn't have a job of her own because her mother told her to focus on getting a good education, so she could become what she wanted to be.
But if their financial situation became so bad that working was her only option, Chrissie said she would "whether it killed me or not."
Right now, though, Chrissie and her family are getting by, and she said there aren't many things she really needs for herself or her son.
The baby needs a new snowsuit, she said, and he's a size three. He could also use some T-shirts, size large, and socks; he wears size seven shoes, she said.
And of course, "You can always use diapers," she said.
As for Chrissie herself, the only thing she said she really needs badly is a new coat, size large. She also said she'd like certificates to K Mart or Wal-Mart, stores where she can buy small things she needs.
But there are also some things that Chrissie would like, even if they aren't absolute necessities.
She said her son loves toy trucks and cars, as well as Barney. When it comes to watching Barney, she said, "He sits there until the show is over."
Chrissie would like a boom box, she said. "I love music," she said, and she listens to pretty much everything but country and rock 'n roll. She also said that she'd wanted a necklace that said her name on it since she was 12 years old. But since her actual name isn't in this article, she said she would like one that said "Mom" too.
Chrissie's life may not be easy, but hopefully, with help from readers, her holiday will be a happy one.
Donations for Chrissie and other struggling teens can be dropped off at The Bristol Press, 99 Main St., during normal business hours. Checks may be sent to The Tattoo’s Christmas Presence/ c/o Steve Collins and Jackie Majerus, P.O. Box 483, Bristol, CT 06011-0483.
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