Krystle Murray spent much of her childhood at school or in the care of babysitters, who watched her at home in the morning and at night, while her single mom worked fulltime at a law firm and went to college at NYU. Now that Krystle is a teenager she doesn't have babysitters anymore and sometimes she feels lonely waiting for her mom to come home, which can be as late as 2 or 3 in the morning. Krystle loves her mom very much and she feels guilty about how hard her mom has worked to provide a good life for them, but Krystle sometimes wonders if all the work hours are worth it.
And now a story about being home alone. Like a lot of kids, Radio Rookie Krystle Murray spent much of her childhood at school and in the care of babysitters. Her single mom often works long hours as a paralegal in a large New York City law firm, sometimes coming home as late as 2 in the morning. Now a sophomore in high school, Krystle feels guilty about how hard her mom has worked to provide a good life for them and, at the same time, she wonders if all the long hours are worth it.
NARRATION: There are some things that I don't understand and might never understand: like why schools make unhealthy lunches for us to eat and why my mom works so much.
MOM: I have to go press my pants to get ready for work.
NARRATION: I see my mom most mornings before school.
KRYSTLE: Ouch! You gotta work on your birthday, isn't that a little preposterous?
MOM: Maybe, but that's how life goes, I'll have to take a day off another time.
NARRATION: When I come from school there's nobody there. Sometimes I find my friend Reggie on the front step. We take off our shoes and then I change out of my school uniform and we watch wrestling.
TELEVISION: Keep on beating, guys and beating guys.
NARRATION: Reggie also has a single mom who works a lot.
KRYSTLE: Is it hard for you?
REGGIE: Yeah it is because sometimes when my mom is out it's like I'm missing something.
NARRATION: Once Reggie leaves, I wait for the hours to tick by. If my mom cooked the night before, I warm up the food for dinner. When my mom works until after ten I get bored and lonely. Sometimes I hear weird noises like the door slamming downstairs. I listen to my CD player.
MUSIC: Big girls don't cry. Big girls don't cry.
NARRATION: I know there's a lot of kids would love to have the freedom of being alone in the house, but for me it's different. I'm not a typical teenager. I don't have parties and I don't smoke or drink.
KRYSTLE: Hi Mom.
NARRATION: My mom gets a little annoyed when I call her too much when she's busy.
KRYSTLE: Mom, can I ask you a question? Mom?
KRYSTLE: Can I ask you a question? My question is, when do you think I could get the CD to start learning how to have a conversation in Spanish besides como estas?
MOM: You could look it up on the internet. Go to Barnes And Noble on the internet and look and see if they have Spanish for beginners.
NARRATION: I only feel comfortable when my mom finally comes home.
KRYSTLE: Hi, Mom.
NARRATION: Then she makes tea and we catch up.
MOM: I left work today and I walked from work to 34th street.
KRYSTLE: You did! Why?
MOM: To get some exercise, we promised we're supposed to lose some weight.
KRYSTLE: That's right!
MOM: We have to reduce our intake of carbohydrates and starches.
KRYSTLE: Do you really know how I feel about you working late?
MOM: I really don't know how you feel, maybe you ought to say.
KRYSTLE: The way I feel about you working late is not too good because I have to stay home by myself at all hours until you get home and I feel like I can't talk to you. So how do you feel about that?
MOM: I'm surprised at that that because we spend so much time talking you call me at my job six, seven times per day. I always try not to come in on the morning so at least I'm home in the early parts of the morning where there is plenty of time for conversation if you are not the computer or not talking to your friends.
UNCLE: I think that if your mother and your dad had the opportunity to a lot more spend more time, you will feel more comfortable, and you would be able to apply yourself more as an adult.
NARRATION: My mom's older brother lives in Barbados. My uncle says that I am too clingy and I need to be more independent.
UNCLE: There's a lot of things I'm seeing that you should know, be able to grips with, that you haven't at this time in your life and I think that's a disadvantage.
NARRATION: That's kind of rough. My mom is the only one in her family to raise a kid by herself. Plus when I was little she worked full-time and got her Bachelor's degree in four years. And anyway, I don't have to wait for my mom to do everything with me, if I did, I'd feel like a baby. Between the train and my house, there's Tiger at The Reggae Hut.
TIGER: The money is good, so I guess that it's okay.
NARRATION: There's Mr. Lewis at Culpepper, the Caribbean restaurant.
MR. LEWIS: Hi how are you?
KRYSTLE: I'm okay. You?
MR. LEWIS: I'm very well.
NARRATION: He says that us kids should not complain about our moms working long hours because if they didn't they might have to go down to the welfare office.
MR. LEWIS: Now tell me, which is really better? You want to get a supplemental meal or you want to get a real meal that comes out of someone with all the love they have for you and bring home the bacon, the real bacon.
NARRATION: I like real bacon, but I try to stay away from it. My mom buys turkey bacon for health reasons. But if my mom could work less, I would be willing to give that up, plus ice cream and macaroni and cheese.
KRYSTLE: I'm making a list on what my mom has to pay for. I probably give up using the air conditioner if it's not hot. I probably might, might, not saying that I will, but might stop playing on my Xbox for a little bit, maybe.
KRYSTLE: Okay, mom, this question is for you, what do you think of this list of things I'd be willing to give up?
MOM: This list doesn't really show much sacrifice.
KRYSTLE: Have you ever questioned yourself about working late or to spend time with me?
MOM: There is always a lot of emotional upheaval about working long hours. You know you love your child and you want to be home and you have to sit and rationalize the whole thing. Even when you're there you think I really wish I could go home. It really feels awkward to be at work when other people are home with their children.
NARRATION: Last summer I got a job. For the first time I was able to buy my mom something out of my own pocket.
KRYSTLE: If there was anything you would want for your birthday, what would it be?
MOM: I would like you to clean your room!
KRYSTLE Hey! Yeah, yeah, it'll get cleaned.
MOM: You've been saying that from last year.
KRYSTLE: Considering any music you would like, what you want.
MOM: Elliott Yamin.
KRYSTLE: I probably get Elliott Yamin for you when I get paid.
MOM: Hmmm hmmm. Yeah, really, I'll wait and see. All right, bye then.
KRYSTLE: Bye mom, love you.
MOM: Love you. Bye bye.
NARRATION: My mom was surprised when I got her the CD. Sometimes I catch her singing her favorite song when she's heading out the door. For WNYC, I'm Rookie Reporter Krystle Murray.