Childhood, and especially the pre-tween stage, can be a very difficult, and if not confusing time for a lot of kids. Not only are they dealing with a lot of changes that are both physical and socially challenging, but there might also be issues at home that they don’t know how to handle, or are simply to afraid to talk about.
Luckily, there’s a new book available that reaches out to kids who might be feeling a little lonely, both at home and at school. It was written by an author who knows what it feels like to grow up with parents who weren’t always there – and that’s because his own parents were addicts.
The book, called ‘Hey, Kiddo: How I Lost My Mother, Found My Father, and Dealt With Family Addiction,’ is by author Jarrett J. Krosoczka. He says the remembers being in the fourth grade and getting a phone call from his grandparents. The last time his grandfather called for a family meeting was to announce that they were going to Disney World for a family vacation. This time around though, he didn’t get the same kind of happy and exciting news. Instead, his grandfather called him to tell him that he would be taking legal custody of him.
"My grandfather sat me down on the couch," Krosoczka told NPR in an interview. "And he said: 'It's time we tell you the truth about your mother. She's in jail and she's a drug addict and that's why she's been gone all this time.'"
Krosoczka says that he always kept this painful information to himself. He didn’t have anyone to talk to, nor did he want to share any of the embarrassing details with his friends. What’s more, he wasn’t much of an athletic or social kid. That’s why he decided to write this book for other kids who might be in the same situation that he was once in.
After all, he knows how hurtful it is to lose a parent because he was a child who grew up without one in his life. He wrote his book, ‘Hey, Kiddo,’ from the point of view of his 17-year-old self.
"It took a long time for me to gain that courage to make this book ..." he says. "I feel like I owe it to these readers to put myself out there."
Krosoczka adds that even though he had a rather normal childhood – complete with a Nintendo system, his GI Joe figurines and his loving and caring grandparents – what he didn’t have was two parental figures in his life. And according to the author, that’s what he missed out on the most. And it’s still something that he still thinks about to this very day.
He said, “I've come to recognize the looks that people will give me right before they are about to share information with me. That typically happens now at a book signing where someone will come up with their book, and they'll explain who this book is for, and they'll be overcome with emotion. And I'm there for that, and I'm present for that. They give me this grief. And I'm able to compartmentalize and leave it there at the bookstore. That sense of responsibility is what led me to really dig deep to make this graphic memoir.”
The book can be purchased on Amazon, currently listed for $10.88.