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What Raising Kids In SoCal Really Looks Like

Franilyn Dacono

Franilyn smiles with her son for a photo.
(Franilyn for LAist)
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Franilyn Dacono

San Fernando Valley • Age 33 • Senior office technician for disability support services for LAUSD West Valley Occupational Center

Lives with Menard (husband), Francis (3), Mercia and Pedro (Menard’s parents)

Participatory Parent Photo Project: Franilyn
(Franilyn for LAist)
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“[My husband] was also able to capture the wedding pictures where I'm still like, slim and glamorous in here. And down there, you see me, messy hair, trying to breastfeed my kid. But I still find beauty in this picture because I'm breastfeeding my kid, and I'm proud to say that up to this point, Francis is 2-years-old and 7 months, and I'm still continuously and strongly breastfeeding him.”
About Parenting, Unfiltered
  • We gave point-and-shoot film cameras to 12 Southern California parents of young children and invited them to document their lives in the Fall of 2019.

  • Join this group of families, from South Los Angeles to the San Fernando Valley and San Bernardino, as they show us what parenting really looks like, through their eyes.

Participatory Parent Photo Project: Franilyn
(Franilyn for LAist)

I gave birth 37 weeks and Francis was put into the NICU... I was really crying for the first two days because I couldn't believe it.
— Franilyn Dacono
"The doctor was saying that if he doesn't maintain [a certain blood sugar level], he can get convulsions, he can get sick, and he could die. And that's where the amazing part came in. With formula, his blood sugar level goes up, but after a few hours, it goes down. But when I breastfeed Francis, it went up and it was able to maintain and he was able to digest it properly. It was a wake up call for me to really strive harder, as much as I can to do my best to breastfeed Francis.”
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Two photos of Franilyn's son Francis as he holds his lunch bag in front of their garage.
(Franilyn Dacono for LAist)

“You know, the life of a 2-year-old is very colorful. He is on his tremendous twos. So, I'm preparing the car and he is waiting for it, but before he wants to go in the car seat, he's like running around and playing around, and on the second part is he's just fascinated his shadow. He calls every shadow as a monster ... so he's saying 'Ahh' with this and trying to fight all the monsters that he sees.”
Participatory Parent Photo Project: Franilyn
(Franilyn for LAist)

"So these two pictures is when my husband will send Francis to school. And he is like, they’re having their moment of Francis is resisting to go into the school, but, you know, as a parent, we need to bring him there because we need to work."

During the first week, when we put him into day care, I myself really cried in the car. It felt like I sent my kid … like … somewhere very far.
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“I was like, crying, and my little boy was crying. And it's like, he was put in a jail. But it wasn't really like that. He was just adjusting, but ... it was a mutual decision by me and my husband because this is really my time now to work and help as well in the financial aspects of the family.”
Participatory Parent Photo Project: Franilyn
(Franilyn for LAist)

“This picture is in an intersection, showing the beauty of the valley ... I just thought that, you know, I’ll take a picture of this beautiful scenery and this is also like a good reminder for me and for everyone that you know sometimes just need to stop and you know, observe our environment or surroundings and just appreciate the beauty of what surrounds us.”

In fall 2019, Franilyn worked at Galpin Ford: “Being in [the car sales] industry is really challenging, it demands a lot of time and the pressure is there. But this is our life here in the U.S., that husband and wife has to work so that we can provide in the family."

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She changed jobs right before the pandemic: “It was a blessing in disguise that I moved [in] January to LAUSD, so I work for LAUSD now… Where I came from, I worked for Ford, which is a sales job and most of my colleagues or my friends over there, they were really like ‘no work, no pay.’ And it's really a difficult time to get customers or clients over there, so most of them did really have that struggle financially. Now that I’m with LAUSD, we still get paid, but now we work online.”

Two photos of Franilyn's son Francis playing with different types of toys and one of him using a coloring book.
(Franilyn Dacono for LAist)

“Some of these young children and young people — or even us — may be feeling more isolated, anxious, bored, and uncertain … We can really tell that we, and our friends on social media across the world, are feeling this anxiety. There is this feeling of fear and grief … over the impact of this virus to us, individually and to our families … My kid is now washing hands by singing the ABCs … he has these questions like, ‘Why we cannot go out? Why do we have to cover? It's hard to run and play when you have a mask.’"

I know some parents may agree with me or not, but I make a schedule for him ... I think that's like my anxiety, too. Like, what should I do? What should I accomplish today? And I feel like I'm not doing anything if I don’t attend to him.

“We’re baking some purple yam bread and he’s my little chef assistant. Baking is therapeutic for me and for our toddler — he's learning math through measurements, science through the yeast process, following instructions, hard work on kneading and on how to be patient!”

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