BRISTOL, Connecticut, U.S.A. — Do you go out and have fun with your friends every weekend? Or maybe every night? Well, 15-year-old Jessica doesn’t get to have those kinds of nights. She has the kind of evenings where she stays home and takes care of her 8-month-old baby boy, Joseph.
“I don’t usually go out,” Jessica said.
Jessica doesn’t have much extra time, let alone money. The extra money she does have goes to her baby. Between diapers, formula, bottles and all the other baby essentials, the situation gets kind of tight.
Jessica is the last of five Bristol teenagers profiled in The Tattoo’s Christmas Presence series. The teenage journalism group — whose work appears on page A9 in today’s paper — is hoping readers will learn about the lives of some struggling teens and respond with donated gifts or checks to help make their holidays a little brighter. The names in most of the stories were changed to protect the privacy of the tee-n-agers interviewed.
Jessica has an enormous weight on her shoulders at such a young age. She and her son live at home with her mother, 14-year-old brother, two sisters, aged 12 and 10.
Jessica, who seems to have flown through her childhood, shares a cramped bedroom with her two sisters and Joseph. She said she and her sisters share a twin bunk bed, two sleeping below and one above. The baby, his crib and changing table take up the rest of the room.
As for Joseph’s father, he and Jessica are still together.
Jessica’s boyfriend still attends Bristol Central High School, and if it weren’t for the fact that the two are next-door neighbors, he would barely get to see Jessica or Joseph.
Jessica said that her family was thinking about moving, but then decided not to, in part so the baby could see more of his father.
She said her life has changed since she became a mother.
But, she said, it’s “not that bad.” The hardest part is “taking care of the baby,” she said.
There’s “too much responsibility,” Jessica said.
All in all, she said her life had changed for the better.
Jessica, who is part of the Young Parents Program at The Family Center, attends classes there. She is planning on going back to Central, where she dropped out in her freshman year.
She wants to return to school in January, and she’d like to play basketball for the Rams, too.
While Jessica is in class, Joseph will be in the school’s baby room. She’ll be allowed to visit him at lunch time.
Jessica’s also very ambitious. After she graduates high school, she wants to go to college to be a doctor and work in a hospital.
To make her Christmas a little brighter — and help her get ready to go back to school next month — Jessica could use some stretch pants in size medium or 7, blouses in size medium, and school supplies, like five-subject notebooks, pens and pencils, folders, a big backpack and a graphing calculator (TI-83) required by high school math courses. She would also appreciate gift certificatesfor movie rentals or music and some warm mittens or gloves. Her son needs a highchair.
To contribute to The Tattoo’s Christmas Presence project, please drop off unwrapped gifts at the Press during regular business hours. Checks can be made out to The Tattoo’s Christmas Presence and sent to The Tattoo/ P.O. Box 483/ Bristol, CT 06011-0483.
Anyone with questions can call The Tattoo’s volunteer advisers, Steve Collins or Jackie Majerus, at 523-9632.
Jen Plonski is a Reporter for Youth Journalism International.
Please note that the phone numbers and addresses mentioned in this story are outdated.