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Essay contest: What do you take for granted?

My parents’ trust means everything

1st place $50

Author’s name withheld

Ever since I was young, my parents taught me to be honest and to tell them everything. However, as I grew up, there were things that I wanted that “everybody had.” Things that my parents wouldn’t let me have. That’s when I started lying to them. And without even noticing it, I started turning into a different person than who my parents had raised me to be.

As eighth grade started, everybody was talking about Facebook. People told me how cool and fun it was and that I should make an account. I went to my mom and asked her if I could, but she said I didn’t need one. At first I agreed with her. However, I fell under the spell of my friends and went behind my parents’ backs to open an account. I had the account for about a year and thought there was no way my parents would find out. However, I was wrong. I accidentally left Facebook open on my computer and guess what? I was busted.

When my mom found out that I had lied to her, I saw the sadness in her eyes—like this was all her fault. She wasn’t furious or angry, she was disappointed, which felt worse. She told me that the biggest reason she got upset was because I lied. I tried to explain myself and tell her why I did this, but nothing would come out. At that point I realized that my life wouldn’t be the same. I had broken the trust that I had built with her. She told my dad and he took away all my privileges—my cell phone, the Internet, my iPod, he didn’t let me go out with friends, nothing. That’s when I realized what a wonderful life I’d had and how it would all change now.

I couldn’t sleep for days. I hardly cared about all the material things that I was missing, but I couldn’t live without having my parents’ trust. That’s when I realized that all these years I had been taking my parents’ trust for granted, not appreciating it, not knowing what I had. I wanted to apologize, to tell them that this would never happen again, but it would take more than an apology to make this better.

I started being completely honest with my parents. This was so much easier than sneaking behind their backs. I told them other things I had hidden from them and felt so much better about myself. I hope one day my parents will trust me again the way they did before.


Mom was always there

2nd place $30

Author’s name withheld

I took my mother for granted. I took her unconditional love, support, company and everything she gave me for granted.

Let me start by saying that I am a recovering heroin addict. For two years my life was a complete mess. A mess that included sleeping and panhandling on the streets, trouble with the law and being put in the foster care system. This mess dragged down everything I cared for and loved, my mom especially. Throughout these two years of turmoil, my mother did so much for me. She tried desperately to find rehabilitation facilities but I refused each time.

I took my mother’s trust and forgiveness for granted. Despite all the times I stole from her, lied to her, and conned her into giving me money, she never left my side. I put my mother through hell and I know it. Not once did I stop to take her feelings into consideration. I was never grateful for any of the things she did for me.

Then one night, while roaming the streets of East L.A. I got pulled over by two police officers. I was searched and they found drugs and drug paraphernalia. That night I should’ve been thrown in jail but instead the cops called child services and I was placed in a foster home.

That night reality hit me hard. Away from my mother, I cried myself to sleep. I cried remembering everything she had done for me. I missed her so much. I started thinking about the sound of her voice, the music she listened to, the smell and taste of her food, even the clothes she would wear.

I started reminiscing about all the times she would be singing and I would shout at her to “shut up,” or when she’d hug me and say “I love you” and I would push her away. I took all these things for granted and it was then that I felt what a big part of my life she really was. That night I prayed for the first time in eight years. I prayed to a god that I wasn’t even sure existed. I prayed for him to give me strength and patience, and I asked for forgiveness for all the things I had done. But most importantly I prayed for him to turn my life around.

My life has turned around. I have been sober for six months and am living with my father and little brother in Baldwin Park. I don’t live with my mother yet, but our relationship is better than ever. Now I know the feeling of losing my mother and I know how to appreciate her.


My brother is a good guy

3rd place $20

By Romana Mikaela Cuario Maralit, Kim Academy

I never realized that I take my 15-year-old brother, Carlos, for granted until I started working on this essay. I was trying to convince myself that I don’t take him for granted, but the truth is I do. Deep down, he’s one of the people I idolize and can’t live without, but sometimes I forget to show him how much I appreciate him.

I’m truly blessed to have an older brother like him. He’s caring, smart, articulate and responsible. I’m so proud of him, yet sometimes I fail to show it. I’m constantly bugging him, annoying him, making fun of him and hurting his feelings so I can get his attention. I remember once having a big fight with him. I’d said that I wish I had another brother. I regret saying that because I am lucky to have him as my brother.

I know that my brother cares for me too. Others may not be so lucky to have a brother who will make sure his sister is OK when they’re walking home, a brother who will cheer you up when you have a bad day at school, a brother who will cancel his plans just to pick you up from school, a brother who will give you solutions to your problems, a brother who will help you with your homework, a brother who will share what’s cool, and most importantly, a brother who will support and love you always. These are all ways in which Carlos has been a great older sibling to me.

One incident made me see just how special our relationship is. I have a cousin who passed away seven years ago. He and his sister always fought like my brother and I did. The day of his funeral, his sister gave a speech and said that she wished she had a better relationship with him, but we can’t turn back the hands of time. I don’t want this to happen to my brother and me. We should make the most of our time by being happy that we have each other because we can never tell what lies ahead.

I will try to be a better sister so that my brother won’t wish that he had a better one. From now on I will think twice before getting upset with him and see if the problem is worth fighting over compared to the good things that he’s done for me. I will also show him that I don’t take him for granted, and that I appreciate him.


Next essay contest—What’s the silliest thing you’ve done for love?

When you like someone, it’s hard to think about anything else. Sometimes you’ve got it so bad that you’ll do anything to let that person know how you feel. Maybe you’ve professed your love during morning announcements over the school intercom, written a poem, gone all out for a date, or performed a serenade during lunch. We want to know what you’ve done for love, whether you’ve been in a relationship and wanted to express your love or had a crush and wanted to get that special someone’s attention. Give us all the details: the set-up, the follow through, and of course the reaction of the guy or girl. Did it work? Was it worth it? Don’t leave anything out!

Write an essay to L.A. Youth and tell us about it:

Essays should be a page or more. Include your name, school, age and phone number with your essay. The staff of L.A. Youth will read the entries and pick three winners.Your name will be withheld if you request it. The first-place winner will receive $50. The second-place winner will get $30 and the third-place winner will receive $20. Winning essays will be printed in our November – December issue and put on our website at www.layouth.com.

Mail your essay to:
L.A. Youth
5967 W. 3rd St. Suite 301
Los Angeles CA 90036
or to editor@layouth.com

DEADLINE: Friday, October 22, 2010