This story is a part of Lit Mag: UNTOLD Issue.I found out I was going to be a father when I was 16 years old. She had just come over. We were sitting in the dining room, talking when she told me, straightforward, “I’m pregnant.” I kind of had an idea that’s what she was going to say because we had a lot of sex and it wasn’t always protected. I wasn’t excited. But I was a little bit happy and very afraid. I felt happy because the opportunity to have a look alike seemed cool. I was hella nervous because I didn’t really know what to do. I didn’t know that by having unprotected sex it would come that fast. When I first told my mom she thought I was joking. I think she was confused by me smiling. After she finally accepted that this was real. She was pretty clear. This was not a joke. My mom left the decision up to me. My ex’s mom wanted her to have an abortion. A part of me wanted her to have an abortion because I’m young. I also just wanted to accept what happened. But we weren't going to let our parents make our decisions. We started asking ourselves ‘Are we ready for this?’ because it will be hard. Having a baby is a lifetime job. In the end. We kept the baby. Amarion Jr. was born June 23rd at 8:45 in the morning. We were up all night for the birth. The delivery room got way too real. I did not want to see all that and when he was born my hand was hurting from the way she was gripping it. I think I felt like a father when I held him. Like I had responsibilities. It was a good feeling. There is someone who will be looking up to me. My actions have to be different, my perspective has to be different. I have to be better. It feels good to have a reason to be better. Having a new baby comes with difficulties. I didn't know anything about taking care of another life. You get no sleep. During the day I go to school, I go to work, I hang out with friends. And then I’d want to go to sleep. But I can’t go to sleep because when I go home I still have to be alert for the baby who has to spend the day with my grandparents or mom when it’s my turn to care for him. Having to learn things on my own was hard. My parents are there to help but they also drew boundaries, making sure that I recognize he is my responsibility and his mother’s. In the first couple of months, I had to pay a lot of attention to making my presence known; letting Amarion Jr. know I’m here for him. He’s 8 months old now. His mom and I aren’t together anymore and the relationship has its ups and downs but we are really trying to stay in communication about Jr. without yelling at each other. I make different decisions knowing that my son is depending on me. I have to be more responsible, careful and cautious about the choices I make now compared to when I wasn’t a father. My actions now are much more responsible. I’ve had to learn to communicate with others. My parents and her parents as we balance the exhaustion of a child with our separate lives. Juggling birthdays, doctors appointments and holidays. Having adult conversations, having to choose to have these conversations even when I don’t want to, makes me feel mature. I’ve had to be more careful with my money. I have to be careful at my job and I’m looking for a second one. I had to learn to budget. I liked to spend money just to spend it. I would just spend my paycheck on the clothes and shoes that I want. But I can’t do that anymore. Now I have to ask myself, "Do I want this or do I really need it?" I’ll even call Jr’s mom and ask what she thinks. I had to let go of doing the things I want when I want. I don’t just go to parties or do drugs and drink. I try not to get into fights anymore. I’m on probation and I have to take that seriously because I don’t want to leave my son behind. I’m not the best parent, I’m not a perfect parent. I do some stuff wrong but I do most stuff good. Thinking first about him instead of myself may be the best good thing I can do.
Amarion Pugh is in the 11th grade at Seneca Pathfinder in Fremont, California. Amarion likes being a journalist at Youth Radio because he likes to tell stories and write about his thoughts on his neighborhood and eye-catching events that happen. At 17, he enjoys writing about the important differences between presidents Obama and Trump that most people should know about.