Older family members look after the well-being of their younger relatives


Kevin Gutierrez

Freshman Elijah Ali drops his little cousin off every morning at Tyler Skills Elementary before going to Stagg. His cousin needs to sit on the handle bars of the bike in order to have room for both of them.

While others may think they’re being harshly tasked with the responsibilities of an adult too soon, these teens don’t even look to them as duties. Instead, their family bonds are enough to give them the perspective that it’s not a duty but rather an act of love.

From ever since he could remember, senior Gavin Hawk has always helped care for his younger siblings. Whether that’s watching over his younger sister who’s three years younger or his youngest brother who’s 17 years younger, Hawk has always thought of this as strengthening their relationships.

“It builds that loving bond with my younger brothers and sister,” Hawk said. Taking on the role of a third parent to his siblings, he’s been there to watch the growth of all of his siblings. “Especially since my brothers are a lot younger than me, it’s crazy to see how fast they’ve grown from since they were babies.”

Currently, Hawk primarily watches over his two brothers while his parents are out at work. “I change diapers, feed them, and make sure they don’t get into any type of trouble,” he said. Just from carrying these duties, Hawk has learned important, needed life skills.

“I know how to do everything with babies,” he said. With these newly obtained skills, he hopes to someday apply them when he has a family of his own.
“I’m going to be the best dad ever. It’s like I’ve been given a head start.”

In addition, freshman Elijah Ali has similar motives when it comes to taking his cousin to school every morning.

Ali starts off his morning like any other high school student. He wakes up and gets ready by 7 in the morning. By that time, he leaves to pick up his cousin from her home, but not by a car, by bike. “I sit her on the front of my bike,” Ali said.

“Even if it’s dangerous, I still take the risks because we both have to get to school on time.”

The convenience of the situation also gives him a better reason to take his cousin to school every day. “We live in the same apartment complex,” he said. It’s rare for his education to be affected negatively. “I’m always on time to first period.”

If it wasn’t for him, his cousin’s attendance would be in jeopardy. “She gets to school earlier and on time because of me,” Ali said. “Her mom’s boyfriend would take her to school, but she would be late.”

As a result, he is able to better her learning experience while also feeling content. “I feel good knowing I help her get to school on time.”

On top of providing transportation for her, he also watches over her from time to time. “Overall, I feel like our relationship has improved. We’re basically always together, so I never lose that connection with her.”

Despite the limitations that these responsibilities may pose, neither of them look at it as restricting. Instead, they both see it as a way to build stronger connections with their family members.