Like many other students at this school, senior Frank Molina has a supportive and caring family. His family, however, takes care of him from almost 2,000 miles away. Ever since school started this August, Molina, legal adult, has been living on his own in his apartment with his dad often sending money for his basic necessities and stopping by to visit at random intervals.
“When my mother passed away last October, my sister and my dad wanted to move back into the house she owned in Arizona. However, I didn’t want to move back, with this being my senior year,” Molina said. “I wanted to finish my senior year over here at Carmel and not start up at a new school, so my dad proposed the idea of me staying by myself.”
Molina said he found the proposition exciting from the start.
“I wanted to do this; it was going to be something different,” Molina said. “I was a little nervous, but it was like my golden ticket, (like) if someone offered me a million dollars. It’s something that I didn’t think it was going to happen; it didn’t even cross my mind.” Despite his initial excitement, the experience has not been easy.
Living by oneself understandably comes with a host of problems. For Molina, his main issue deals with laziness. Molina said at first he often found himself too lazy to clean the house or perform other chores. With time, however, he eventually developed a routine strategy of keeping the apartment sanitary.
“I decide to clean the two dirtiest parts of the house, so for one weekend it’s like the kitchen and the bathroom,” he said. “Next week, I’ll clean the other parts of the house that need cleaning. I’m not the type of person who will just clean the house all day, so I just divide and conquer.”
Counselor Shelly Rubinstein said she understands the difficulties Molina is presented with.
“(Living by himself) makes senior year a little more difficult in that he is responsible for all of his well-being,” Rubinstein said. According to Rubinstein, a typical situation would have parents assume all the adult roles, and Molina assuming such duties requires better time-management and maturity on his part.
However, Molina said he has been able to demonstrate precisely the kind of self-control he must have in order to let the current situation work and let it stay that way. According to Molina, his apartment is not simply open to whomever who wants to come.
“I really only invite my closest friends to stay over at my apartment, so there will never be more than three or four people over,” Molina said. With this control, Molina said he feels the experience has overall been beneficial for him.
“I’m learning how to cook on my own. I’m learning how to clean on my own. I’m learning how to run the household, and I’m getting firsthand experience managing my money and food, so I think it’s really helpful,” Molina said.
Rubinstein said she agrees that living alone can have its benefits.
“Different parents have a different idea for how their families should be,” Rubinstein said. “His family feels they made the right choice.”
Despite the success Molina has had taking care of himself, he said he still experienced a fair amount of hardship. One such case includes dealing with the now-empty house.
“(My dad and sister’s moving away) is like your very close friends moving. You’ll miss them a lot, but eventually you’ll have to get over it,” Molina said.
In addition to the emotional aspects of living by himself, Molina said he has also had to deal with technical problems.
“One of the things that happened was I happened to lose my social security card, and I had to go down and get it,” Molina said. “The social security office closed at 3:30, so my dad had to call the school to let them know that I had to leave, so I hopped into the car around 2, drove to the office and got a new one.”
In light of Frank’s situation and her job as a counselor, Rubinstein said she finds herself concerned with how students are faring.
“We want to help kids be as well-adjusted as possible and help kids with whatever situations arise at home or at school,” she said.
Molina, however, said he has been able to cope with the loneliness factor pretty well.
“I’ve been actually really busy with schoolwork,” Molina said. “I’m in the IB program, and that has a lot of stuff that I need to do. I guess I’m too distracted to be lonely.” Molina’s continued academic rigor also appears to contradict a nationwide study by the University of Cincinnati stating that teenagers who live alone are more likely to drop out of
For Molina, he said that he used to spend a lot of time with his dad and sister.
“We used to do lots of activities together, and so I’ve missed them a lot since they moved to Arizona. However, I’ve been keeping myself entertained, and I have a lot of work,” Molina said. “Boredom causes loneliness, but I’m not bored.”