AJ is hurt to be seeing his dad Junior locked up again — and doesn’t want this life for himself! He instead wants to go to college and become an engineer!
Could it be that AJ is tired of watching what the lifestyle does to his family? His father Junior Pagan recently got busted and will be going away for the second time soon — and AJ admits that it’s hard to watch his dad go again. “It’s hard not seeing him, but I have to deal with it,” he says. But “I did it before for a long time. Him going away for a couple of months isn’t as big of a deal as him going away for years.”
AJ was just about 5 or 6 years old when his dad went for the long haul. “When I used to go visit my dad and saying goodbye — that was the hardest thing,” he remembers. “I was 5 or 6 and he was gone for 6 years.”
But unlike most people would expect, AJ’s parents — specifically dad Junior — don’t pressure him to follow in their footsteps. Instead they encourage AJ to do well on school and stay out of trouble.
And watching his dad has taught AJ “don’t be stupid and don’t get in trouble.” He’s on the right track making “good grades, picking good friends, going to school, [and] not doing bad things like getting in trouble with drugs.”
AJ in fact wants to go to college — maybe University of Miami or Rutgers — to study engineering.
But AJ still shares advice to other kids who are going through similar situations of saying goodbye to a parent. “Just keep your heads up and always keep good friends around you because you your friends make you feel better,” AJ says, “You don’t have anybody to talk to and it’s harder on you.”
- Lindsey DiMattina
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