WYSO

The Tooth Fairy: A Teenager Learns To Eat Well

Nov 28, 2019

16 year old Jaylen Brown told our Dayton Youth Radio class at Dayton Early College Academy about some of the things he loves: his family, gangsta rap from the 90s and lots of sweets, cookies, candy bars, soda, donuts.  But then he realized that good things don't last forever. 

I used to eat candy, sweets and meat for days. My diet was terrible. I didn't listen to my mother who did try to tell me right, but she had to work so she couldn't enforce it as much. My teeth were bad back then.

I live at home with my mother Tara Trent and stepfather Harvey Trent. I was pretty good at keeping my room clean, keeping good grades, but my diet was the main thing holding me back.

For example, my mother went out and bought a huge box of Super Donuts and put it in a freezer in the basement. I never really understood why they necessarily call it a Super Donut, but they're really good heated up and they're naturally moist, which is always a plus. That box had at least 100 Super Donuts in it. Me and my older brother Chris ate that whole box in two days; we ate nothing but those Super Donuts.

My mother was furious, as you can probably guess. You can also guess that I got a lot of cavities. By the time I was four, I had about three or four caps on my teeth, mainly on my back teeth.

My stepfather has been my life since I was four years old, and I pretty much see him as my actual dad now. One day after we had all gotten back from me getting my checkup at the dentist, my mom was kind of mad that I had gotten a couple of cavities. I kind of already knew that she had to pay a bunch of money to get them taken care of, but I didn't know what else she was mad about. So I asked my dad why she was mad. He kind of sighed and led me to the dining room table.

"You eat too much sugar," he said. "It's really not good for you."

He asked me if I knew why my mom gave herself shots in her stomach. I said I didn't.

He explained to me that diabetes was a disease that you get and that the shots you took were insulin. He said that was why he and my mom usually got on me about eating so much candy because they didn't want me to go through the same stuff my mom does every day. He also explained to me that my biological father most likely had it too.

"Can you give me an example of how you've helped my diet get better besides like adding vegetables and stuff?" I recently asked my dad.

"When a kid is able to go to sleep when he's supposed to go to sleep, that's a good indication that his diet is okay. When he's able to sit in a classroom and concentrate on his paperwork and the teacher and make A's and B's like you do...You're lucky you ran into me, and I'm lucky I ran into you."

I asked him if it was my mother's fault that we didn't eat as good as we were supposed to back then.

"Son, nothing is your mama's fault," he replied. "She's a queen. She's my queen and she's your queen. She couldn't be there because she had to work. She had to provide. You're a good kid, and you're growing up on the street and narrow. Your sugar intake has been reduced, and when you are able to concentrate on no sugar for your diet - and it's hard to do because everything has sugar in it. But you'll grow a lot bigger if you stop eating sugar. Fruits are better."

What we did was to start cutting down on the amount of sweets and candy. I didn't eat something sweet every day and neither did my parents. My dad actually does most of the cooking in the house, and he usually makes sure to incorporate a good amount of vegetables every time he does. He would also give me some vegetables to eat while he was cooking. I used to hate it, but now I appreciate it.

Jalen Brown is a student at the Dayton Early College Academy. To learn more about DECA, visit the school's website: http://daytonearlycollege.org/  Special thanks to Anne Rasmussen, Director of Community Involvement at DECA. Dayton Youth Radio is supported by the Virginia W. Kettering Foundation, the Vectren Foundation, and the Ohio Arts Council.

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