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A Christmas Story: A Teenager's Gift To Himself And His Mom

Aaron Matlock
Basim Blunt
/
WYSO
Aaron Matlock

For the first 17 years of this week's Dayton Youth Radio producer's life, he was known to the world as Aaron Step. That's his father's last name. Aaron tells us about a holiday gift is the one that can't be found under a Christmas tree.

I'm Aaron. I'm a senior at Centerville. I love hanging out with my friends, I have goals for my life, I have great ambitions, and to say it lightly, I'm a sneaker head. My favorite sneaker of all time is the Air Jordan 1 Chicago. I live with my mom, Diane, and my sister Abigail. I've lived with my mom and my sister my whole life.

I have a memory that my mom and I share from when we moved from a not so good neighborhood in Dayton to Centerville. I remember one time in my old neighborhood, two guys stopped in the middle of the street in front of our house and got into a fight while I was outside. I was really small at the time, so naturally I ran and hid. Coming from that to Centerville was a really big step up.

My stories about how I decided to change my last name, mainly because I no longer wish to have my father's last name attached to me anymore.

My mom and my dad, Roy, have been split up for the majority of my life. I haven't seen my father since 2012. I don't really remember the last time I saw him. From what I remember, he had wrinkly skin, a receding hairline, and the blue eyes that I got. My father was the perfect representation of the stereotypical deadbeat dad. He'd always yell at my mom, and I wake up to him arguing with her in the middle of the night. He worked at a dead end job and did things that shouldn't be said on the radio. The only reason he wanted custody over me and my sister was so my mom would have to pay him child support. You get the picture.

I turned 18 on August 31. For me, turning 18 means the first step into adulthood. So this year on my birthday, I told my mom that I'm going to change my last name to her last name.

"That's why you had to wait till you're 18 years old, because it's a decision that...it's a personal decision that you that you all have to make," she said.

Actually, this morning when I recorded my interview with my mother, she almost went into tears and told me it'd be an honor for me to take her last name.

"When you told me that you had been thinking about it and that you wanted to change your name, it's overwhelming. It made goosebumps go up my arms, and it made me feel honored. It's the fact that you acknowledge my lineage and who I came from. And then you also are acknowledging the fact that I've been by myself and there's a whole lot of feelings behind that."

I did this story because it's going on right now. This is very recent. It's big. I don't want my person or my achievements to be attached to my father's last name.

"I never wanted to have you guys feel all of the badness of a divorce and all the horrible things that were said and done to me and for you to take that name [is] just an acknowledgment that that I did okay and that we're going to be okay and you're going to be okay and Abigail's going to be okay," my mom said.

I'm sure it'll be weird for my friends to address me by a completely different name from what they're used to. My final thoughts are Aaron Matlock sounds a whole lot cooler than Aaron Step.

Aaron Matlock is a student at Centerville High School. Special thanks to Aaron's mom Diane and Tricia Rapoch, teacher for the Communication Arts Program at Centerville High School. Learn more at the school's website: http://www.centerville.k12.oh.us/CHS. Dayton Youth Radio is supported by the Virginia W. Kettering Foundation, the Ohio Arts Council and the CenterPoint Energy Foundation.

This story was created at the Eichelberger Center for Community Voices at WYSO.