By Eliana Lanfranco
Every night, I sit down with my nine-year-old sister at the dining table and help her with her school work. I give her all of my attention and patience, and I make sure that she does her best on all of her assignments. Because she has trouble focusing, I must stay with her from start to finish, which means that I must put my own school work aside. As a result, I usually finish all of my assignments well past midnight.
It isn’t just that I have to help my sister with her homework. I also have to help her deal with the symptoms of her hyperthyroidism, which she was diagnosed with two years ago. This condition makes the thyroid glands produce an excess of thyroxine, causing my sister to have an accelerated metabolism, hot flashes and difficulty sleeping. Often, I must stay awake with her for hours until she falls asleep.
This responsibility falls to me because my mother works until late at night and does not speak English. When I was younger, I resented my mom for leaving this to me: None of my friends had to be like a substitute mother for their siblings, and I envied their freedom and careless manner. But as I grew older, I started to feel ashamed of those feelings. I realized that my mother was working all day so she could pay the bills and everyday expenses. Continue reading