“I don’t know if he’ll ever know how much he means to me, knowing he is waiting for me keeps me pushing forward.”
Incarcerated: 2 years
Housed: Monmouth County Correctional Institution, Freehold, New Jersey
My mother was 41 when she had my youngest brother, Damarian (I call him Pedro). I had graduated high school and was on my way to Morgan State University when I told her I would not be babysitting and changing diapers for her. I’m sure my mom was confused because my family considers me to be, “The Child Whisperer” since all the children love me and I always babysit. When he arrived six days before my birthday, I didn’t even hold him. When he was six months or so, I started to warm up to him. When he started using his walker, he would barge into my room or bang on my door. When he was about ten months old, I decided to experiment with him. I majored in psychology and I was taking a course on childhood development. Pedro just so happens to be the perfect age to test the theories. So when I moved back home, everyday before and after work I would spend an hour or two with Pedro, going over the contents of a big yellow container meant to teach young children. It had animal books with the sounds they make, colors, shapes, numbers and the alphabet. I was thoroughly impressed by how quickly he picked up on everything. Teaching him became the highlight of my days. Once he mastered the yellow container, I started to teach him the basics in Spanish. By the time he was two he knew animals, their sounds, his alphabet, numbers 1 -20, colors, shapes and body parts. He even knew everything in Spanish. When he went off to Pre-K, his teachers would always speak on how smart he was. I was so proud of him! I would take him everywhere with me and show him off as ‘my son.’ He’s now seven and I have been incarcerated for the past 21 months. I draw him pictures, talk to him on the phone and teach him the best I can through letters and visits. A couple of months ago he came to see me, I had him spelling words and doing math problems. The guard made an announcement that we had five minutes remaining. Pedro began to shut down. I asked him what was wrong. He told me he missed me. I told him I missed him too, and I started to cry. He then said, “It’s okay. It’s going to be okay.” I watched him fight his tears as the visit hall was being cleared. It broke my heart, but at the same time he gave me strength. I don’t know if he’ll ever know how much he means to me, knowing that he is waiting for me keeps me pushing forward. Pedro, 7, said, “It’s going to be okay.” And I, 26, believe him more than anything or anyone. It will be okay and we will get through this!