By Laura Sessions Stepp
Sunday, December 26, 2010; W03
At 10:30 on a recent Sunday morning, Bobby Krotendorfer, 22, is trying to get his son dressed for church while talking to a reporter on the telephone.
"Come on, now," he says to his 3-year-old namesake, Rob, also known as "Junior." "No, we can't play with the cars. Let's get this shirt on." Rob, he explains, "is into race cars. He's got this whole Mustang thing going on right now."
Early last year, Bobby, a high school dropout, was profiled in The Washington Post Magazine. Laid off from his job as a manual laborer and living in Waldorf, he spent his days taking care of Junior and the two young daughters of his girlfriend, Lori Ball, 23, with whom he lived.
Statistics on young, unmarried fathers such as Bobby suggested that after the birth of his son, he wouldn't have stayed with the family more than a year. In fact, he did leave for a while after the Post article ran. But he returned about a year ago and is working hard again at being a dad and a breadwinner, driving three to four hours a day, five days a week, to construction jobs that pay him an hourly wage.
Any other children in your and Lori's future? he is asked.
"I don't think so," he says. "We're using condoms."
It's fortunate that he's employed because Lori, previously a waitress at Waldorf's Lone Star Steakhouse Restaurant, lost her job when the establishment closed. She says she's now taking college courses online in order to become a medical assistant.
"We're together, and I'm glad for the most part," she says of herself and Bobby. Bobby says, "We have our little fights, but we've been getting along."
They still live with Lori's father, Pete Ball. Bobby's "a good man," says Pete, adding that he especially appreciates that Bobby is helping to raise Lori's two girls, Faith, 6, and Hope, 4, "as if they were his own."
To which Bobby, when he hears that, replies, "You can't love one without loving the other."
With his family assembled to leave for church, Bobby says he has to go. Rob is demanding some chocolate milk, so Bobby quickly pours milk into a go-cup.
"One for the road!" he tells his son as they head for the car.
Read the original story: Family Man
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