This week on the Best of Dayton Youth Radio we have a story from Daylan McKinney from Ponitz Career Technology Center in Dayton. McKinney was a senior when this story first aired two years ago. He wanted to deal with a topic that a lot of our high school kids are grappling with, the effect of divorce on a family.
I’m 17 years old and a former athlete. I used to play basketball for Ponitz, and I played from freshman to junior year. Then I stopped playing.
One thing that was cool about playing high school basketball was that my family came to all my games. One time I missed a layup, and I looked up in the stands and saw my brother and my mom and dad screaming at me, “Come on, you were supposed to make that!”
It meant a lot to me because I know they really care about how I played. A lot of my teammates on the basketball team don't have fathers. That's one thing that bothers me, the lack of fathers in homes.
Just like in any other household, we had a lot of static, or turmoil, in the house. There were also good times along with the bad. On the weekends, we would all sit on my mom and dad’s bed and watch TV, or we would all watch a movie together. My mom and dad were really silly and goofy, and sometimes they would play fight and my dad would tickle her because my mom is extremely ticklish. So whenever my dad would start tickling my mom she would call me and brothers name, and we would come running into the room and we would wrestle my dad and get him off of her.
I remember my parents would never argue in front of me and my brother; they would always argue in the living room or in their bedroom with the door shut. I began to notice the fights were happening more and more often.
There was a time me and my brother were chilling in his room playing video games, and we heard my parents’ door slam and we're like “here they go again”. They come out and we hear my mom yelling, and I see my dad get in the car and pull off. I asked my mom, ”Where's my dad going?”
She just said, “he has to go...he just has to go,” and I began to get upset and start crying. I just started thinking the worst that my dad's not coming back and he's really leaving me forever. I was a young kid, and young kids always think the worst.
I asked my mom if she remembered this day.
“I do, life is hard,” she said. I told her that when my brother and I were younger, there was a lot of arguing in the house, and she replied, “Yeah, [laughs] that's because somebody didn't have a job, or we weren't ready for whatever life brought our way. I would never lie to you and say that marriage is easy ‘cause it is not. But I knew that he wasn't leaving us for good; he just needed to cool off cause I knew I wasn't gonna stop”
I told my mom that although I never knew what that argument was about, I’ve always remembered it.
“I hate that you held that inside cause he will never [leave],” she said. “You've been holding that all these years? It bothers me that you didn’t come to me or your dad to get that resolved. I hate that. I'm sorry about that."
When I woke up the morning after the argument, I saw my Dad walk into the bathroom, and I was like, “What are you doing? I thought you were going.”
He turned around and put his finger to his mouth and gave me that “shush” face. That was a real good moment for me, because I thought, wow, my dad really cared about me. I knew keeping the family together was really important to him.
It seems like it's normal for black teens my age not to have a father in the household, and I feel like that's kind of weird because in marriage vows, doesn't it say till death do us part, through sickness and health, for richer or poor? I don't know. I'm only a teenager, and I don't know anything about that marriage stuff.
My dad is not an emotional person and doesn't really talk a lot, but through his actions, he has shown that he cares for me. I really appreciate that. Thanks, Dad.
This story originally aired in 2018. Daylan McKinney is a graduate of David H. Ponitz Career Technology Center. Special Thanks to Ponitz Radio media arts instructors Joanne Viskup and Jeffrey Crowell. Learn more at the school's website: http://ponitzctc.org/
Support for Dayton Youth Radio comes from the Virginia W. Kettering Foundation, the Ohio Arts Council and the Vectren Foundation. This story was created at the Eichelberger Center for Community Voices at WYSO.