14-year-old Krystle has been living in a group home in Manhattan since last summer. She never expected to wind up in "the system," but when conflicts between Krystle and her mother reached a boiling point she found herself separated from her family. In her radio story, Krystle documents what life is like in the group home and how she might be able to move back to her family.
KRYSTLE: Hello ladies and gentlemen, it is I. Krystle Monclova reporting live. Oh and this is my favorite song hold on… (music)
KRYSTLE: This is Marian Hall - I call it "the hellhole." I hate it. Not Marian Hall, but being here.
KRYSTLE: Wo ti to ta - just one more song it don’t hurt … (music)
KRYSTLE: When I’m bored, I read. I just read "The Catcher in the Rye," and I love Holden Caulfield - he says damn a lot! We're both away from home for the first time, we both miss our family and we're both funny.
KRYSTLE: I love to make up words. Robogasm (gasp Laugh) Atomic crack wire. Cold bubble gum milk. Those are my little phrases. Anyway I have to go, bye now.
KRYSTLE: Mic check.
KRYSTLE: That’s my mom.
MOM: Hi, this is mom, Margarita.
KRYSTLE: We're waiting to see a social worker.
KRYSTLE: You have a middle name?
MOM: Yeah Margarita.
KRYSTLE: What’s your first name then?
MOM: Oh Corpa.
KRYSTLE: Ha ha ha.
MOM: Stop the thing.
KRYSTLE: It's the usual.
KRYSTLE: She’s ridiculous. She’s telling me not to use my recorder.
KRYSTLE: my mom has an attitude with me so I do the same back to her - but worse.
KRYSTLE: Don’t you dare look at me like that. Better!
KRYSTLE: I’m thinking my situation is normal, because everyone fights with their parents.
KRYSTLE: I’m getting very impatient.
KRYSTLE: So why am I here?
KRYSTLE: Ma why do you have to look so dressed up just for a meeting?
KRYSTLE: Here's the scoop. Last spring, chaos collided with rage! I got into an argument with my mom. I refused to listen to her. I threw an ironing board, and it hit her on her leg. My mom used the belt on me. Then she called the police - and there was no looking back. I ended up at Marian Hall with 19 other lost devils. I mean the other young ladies at the home. And I am thinking, wow, I’m only 13. I want to go home!
KRYSTLE: Snap out of it Krystle. Summer’s fading away and now what?!
KRYSTLE: Damn. I have to meet with the Social Worker, Caren Chopak.
CAREN: Its very difficult to learn new behaviors um sometimes it’s hard to change the way you act with each other because you are so use to acting a certain way together.
KRYSTLE: It’s not just my mom and me – it’s the whole family. When we get angry, some of us hold it inside. And some of us throw things or break things or hit and curse. Mostly it’s the yelling, and hitting and the throwing that got me here. So I have my sessions with Caren. My family and I have to go to therapy. A family court judge gets updates on how we’re doing. And once child services and the judge agree that everything is ok - then I get to go home.
CAREN: I would like to ask you what you think about your family’s chances for working things out and being able to go back home with them.
KRYSTLE: Nada… no I’m playing with you.
KRYSTLE: I’m in gayside.
KRYSTLE: I mean Bayside in Queens.
KRYSTLE: Chilling with Rose and Danny and Shenice.
KRYSTLE: I get to go to my old neighborhood on the weekends. But I don’t get to spend the night.
FRIEND: Lesbian seagull I love you.
FRIEND: And I am gonna miss you. I can’t wait till September when you come back or October or whenever.
FRIEND: All right I have a few questions to ask you my darling. So tell me do you know what ACS is?
FRIEND: ACS is Child Services.
KRYSTLE: Do you know anyone who’s ever been affected or involved in ACS?
FRIEND: Yes I do.
KRYSTLE: And who would that be?
KRYSTLE: And who else? I’m sure you know someone else.
KRYSTLE: And someone else?
FRIEND: No that’s it. Oh Krystle.
KRYSTLE: Yes myself. Yeah.
KRYSTLE: Thank you Lesbian Seagull.
FRIEND: You’re welcome.
KRYSTLE: That was summer. Now it’s fall. And I’m still at Marian Hall. My family and I have been doing better with each other. And my mom is always saying, ‘oh da da da, when you get home, we’re gonna do this and that.’
KRYSTLE: All right we’re driving the car…
KRYSTLE: But - I’m still angry that she called the police on me.
KRYSTLE: I’d like to ask you a few questions mother.
KRYSTLE: how did you feel when they took me away?
MOM: Devastated, it’s the worst thing that’s ever happened to me.
KRYSTLE: Why did you call the police?
MOM: Because you were out of control.
KRYSTLE: How do you feel now?
MOM: Um empty, I feel empty.
KRYSTLE: And she puts the, all right look green light. Can we drive the car?!
KRYSTLE: Damn! I hate the way I sound when I talk to her.
KRYSTLE: It’s about time, can you drive faster please?!
KRYSTLE: Atomic Crack Wire!
KRYSTLE: Oh my god!
KRYSTLE: She sounds like a softy. And I sound like a bully.
KRYSTLE: We’re looking for a parking spot.
KRYSTLE: Can you introduce yourself?
MATTINGLY: Yes, I’m John B Mattingly I am the commissioner of the administration for children’s services…
KRYSTLE: Wow - I got to interview the Commissioner of Child Services. He didn’t know anything about my personal case. I told him that I love my family.
KRYSTLE: I want to go home and my mom wants me home also. What can we do to speed this up?
MATTINGLY: I think most kids want to be with their families but sometimes that isn’t safe we have to separate children from their families. When that has to happen we should work hard and quickly make that family whole again soon but that’s not always going to happen may not be your case.
KRYSTLE: The commissioner smelled like coffee & cream cheese.
KRYSTLE: Do you have any last comments?
MATTINGLY: We should talk more. You should call me up sometime.
KRYSTLE: Ayyy chica! He’s short and chubby and cute, and he has gray-white hair and blue eyes…He’s so beautiful.
KRYSTLE: He’s so beautiful mom.
KRYSTLE: That’s what I told my mom when she called me.
KRYSTLE: Yeah, I’ll let you hear it of course…
KRYSTLE: She was asking me, did you tell him about your case? Is he gonna take a look?
KRYSTLE: Mmhmph I told him and he helped me out.
KRYSTLE: I just said that to make her feel better. I guess she really does want me to come home.
MOM: Now that we are getting the services I feel that now they helping us to understand you know that each one of us need to respect each other.
KRYSTLE: All I know you as a mom who’s very overprotective. You know but I like when you laugh. You make me happy and when you smile.
MOM: Que Linda, thank you I never expect to hear that from you, you surprise me.
KRYSTLE: I love you mom.
MOM: I love you too you know that. I love you a lot.
KRYSTLE: Unfortunately, these moments don’t last long.
KRYSTLE: Testing mic check one two, one two.
KRYSTLE: We’re not exactly a gallery of sweet potato pies.
DAD: Come on be friends. Krystle, Stephen, let’s play jumanji.
KRYSTLE: The pie goes from sweet to sour, sweet to sour.
DAD: Come one we got to have family time sometimes.
KRYSTLE: We’re at my house in Queens.
BROTHER: Let’s play scrabble.
KRYSTLE: My Dad is calling my brother and me to play scrabble. He tries to have family time with us.
DAD: Margaret we’re playing a game. I’m not playing that game with you no more Margaret.
KRYSTLE: Damn…stop arguing!!!
DAD: She started sh* since this morning:
BROTHER: You sound like a little kid
KRYSTLE: Exactly you guys are acting like babies!!
DAD: when I am in the kitchen she leaves my sh* alone.
KRYSTLE: All right just stop talking just sit down
DAD: I told you that New Year’s right?
KRYSTLE: Come on let’s play scrabble!
BROTHER: Daddy come on it’s your pick.
KRYSTLE: If only my dad would say to my mother in a very velvety voice, “Honey – would you like to come play scrabble with us? I’ll clean the kitchen later.” And I would say in a very sweet voice – “Yea! Family time!”
KRYSTLE: We’re trying.
DAD: Your mother come get you yet?
KRYSTLE: Every once in a while, my dads calls to see how I’m doing.
DAD: Be good, control yourself when you get home it’s only for a couple of hours. We’re gonna make these people happy, so we can get them out of our lives okay?
DAD: Okay, talk to you later.
KRYSTLE: All right bye I love you dad.
DAD: I love you too. Don’t break nothing up.
KRYSTLE: It’s winter now, cold bubble gum milk! And I’m still here at Marian Hall. I’m not allowed to go to my house anymore because we’re not living peacefully without chaos. One thing leads to another and before you know it – Bam! It gets violent. They say my next court date is in May. Spring again. I’ll have been here a whole damn year.
KRYSTLE: What advice can you give me?
KRYSTLE: The commissioner of child services told me I have to be strong.
MATTINGLY: Be strong, because you are here now and that struggle has made you a better person. And you have a right to people’s attention and you have a right to a good family so never give up on that, never.
KRYSTLE: Thanks for the advice big blueberry. I’m doomed forever. Just kidding. I’ll try.
For WNYC, I’m Rookie Reporter Krystle Monclova.