I met the woman I’ll call Sasha while I was working on a story for the Nashua Telegraph about how parents at the Bronstein Apartments public housing complex think about their children’s futures. Some of the parents of young children talked hopefully about teaching their children to value their education, go to college and wait to start their own families. Sasha spoke from the perspective of having teenage kids. She was less optimistic.
Sasha had a lot to say, but she didn’t want me to use her name. That meant I couldn’t mention her in the newspaper story, but I can write about her here.
Sasha is trying her best to figure out a way to move to the Midwest, where she has family. She dislikes Nashua in general and Bronstein in particular—feels kids here are rude and a bad influence on her own five children.
She’s particularly worried about her oldest two, both boys, ages 15 and 18. She thinks they don’t want to work. In fact, she said, after some badgering, the 18-year-old has found a job selling vacuum cleaners door-to-door. I was a bit surprised to hear that a job I thought of as a staple of ancient cartoons still existed, and I also wondered if she was worried about her son’s safety.
She said he only sells to people he knows. But she also said he isn’t making many sales.
“He’s spending more on gas than I’m sure he’s going to make,” she said.
Sasha knows the economy is rough, but she’s impatient for her oldest kids to become a bit more self-sufficient, in part because she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis this year.
Years ago, Sasha worked at an electronics company in Hudson, assembling computer boards. But, while she was pregnant with her fifth child, she got laid off. That was when she applied for housing assistance and moved the family from their three-bedroom apartment in the nearby Tree Streets to the public housing development. Since then, she said, he hasn’t been able to find consistent work.
“Dunkin Donuts here, Dunkin Donuts there,” she said. “But that’s really not a job.”
Now that her terrible migraines have turned out to be a symptom of MS, she’s getting disability benefits. Still, just taking care of the household is becoming tough to handle.
“I can’t get up and function on a daily basis,” she said.
Sasha said that’s another reason she worries about her kids—she physically can’t be there to make sure they’re acting responsibly. She said the one who’s really been helping out with getting things done around the house is her 12-year-old daughter. The girl hopes to be a lawyer when she grows up.
Sasha said she’ll do her best to help her do that. For all of her kids, though, she said her biggest hope is simply that they’ll find a way to get by.
“Just as long as they’re taking care of their own responsibilities,” she said.