When my little brother was born, my first reaction was that he was cute, and I’d be able to post pictures of him on Facebook. Soon I found myself watching him sleep every night because I wanted to know that he was safe. I believed that if anything happened to him, it would be my fault. It would hurt me to watch him play with older kids because they would use his toys and he’d be too afraid to tell them no. It took all the willpower I had to not step in when I watched. I was nervous about everything he did. Every time he ran, ate circular foods, played with small toys, or slept on his stomach, I got scared. My job was to protect him. He is the only person on this planet that I would sacrifice my life for.
At the age of twelve I had a funny thought, “I’m the man of the house.” It only made sense. As a twelve-year-old, I was the oldest male in the house. As I got older, it made more and more sense. If I wanted to be the man of the house, things had to change. I had to grow up quickly. I needed to be a role model for my brother, and be independent in order to make my mom’s life as easy as possible. I went from being a kid that played video games instead of doing math homework, to the person that picked up his little brother from daycare every day. I got a job, picked up my work in school, and tried to become as self-sufficient as I could. I made sacrifices, but that’s what was necessary. Picking up my brother from daycare meant that I couldn’t always hang out after school, or get dinner with my friends, but I was doing the things that had to be done.
On my way home from work, I look at my phone to see a text from my mom “We got broken into.” I couldn’t believe it. Everybody always talks about how bad my neighborhood is, but in fifteen years of living here, nothing had happened. I needed to know what was going on at home. I felt all control slipping away. Somebody had broken into my house, now my mom wasn’t responding to my texts, and there was nothing I could do. I started to play out all the different scenarios in my head. Would everything we owned be gone? Did somebody get hurt? What happened to my mom and why couldn’t she reply to my text? As I started to play out all of the possible damage that could’ve been done, I found myself running home. The first thing that I saw was my brother playing basketball, and my mom talking to a police officer. Now I’d seen everything I needed to see. Even if our apartment had been stripped to the bone, I didn’t care. My family was safe and that’s the only thing that mattered. After assessing the damage, we realized the only thing that they took was my PlayStation. The thieves had gone through all the electronics in my house, and the only thing that they had taken was a PlayStation? I’d never felt so relieved. Now it felt so unimportant that I didn’t even feel like I should even tell anybody. My mom kept asking me questions and saying things that made me realize how on-edge she was. She asked me if I was feeling okay, if I felt safe, if I thought we should stay in a hotel for the night. Throughout all of these questions, I was visibly happy. However, I knew that the feelings wouldn’t last.
A common theme after somebody experiences a break-in is that they don’t miss their belongings, but they miss their sense of privacy and security. As I lay in my bed that night, it began to hit me. I felt that no matter how hard I worked, somebody could just kick my door down and take everything away from me. Everybody’s home is supposed to be the place where they feel comfortable. My room has things on the walls that illustrate who I am. But that day, my home felt like it belonged to more people than just me. It belonged to the people who kicked my door down and took my things. Before my house was my safe-haven, now it felt like anybody that wanted to have access to it could have it.
Not only did I feel like they had access to me, but they had access to my family. The way I used to watch my brother sleep, the thieves could do that now if they wanted to. As the so-called “man of the house,” I had taken on the job of protecting my home and the people in it. After they kicked down my door, I knew that as a protector, I had failed.
Kenny Allen is a rising Senior who lives in Boston. He’s very passionate about politics, and his writing typically reflects that.