By Ivan Godinez
Hispano de Tulsa
I was an only child for nineteen years.
My parents refused to have another child because of the complications my mother had when I was born, but in 2006 I remember being in that same hospital room where my mom gave birth to my little sister, and translating every single instruction the doctor and the nurses instructed me to tell her.
We have a big family in Mexico where we are from, but my parents both were among the first in their families who decide to leave their hometowns to move here to Tulsa, like many other immigrants in search for a better life. Realizing it was only the three of us in a foreign country brought us even closer than ever.
Soon after I arrived to the U.S and began learning the language, like many other children of immigrants I became the official translator of the family.
At fifteen I translated their bills when they arrived in the mail. I accompanied my father as he went around looking for jobs and when we were looking for a place to live I’d be the one talking to the staff of whatever apartments we were applying to, and while ordering at McDonalds I’d be the one ordering for them as well. I was always present when every important decision regarding the family was made.
So although it might seem a bit strange that a nineteen year old was present at the moment his mother gave birth to his sister, it wasn’t at all for me. I was involved in the process as soon as my mother found out she was pregnant, as the translator of the family I accompanied her to most if not all doctors’ appointments previous to the birth, and when my mother was only minutes away from giving birth I remember being the one translating and asking her about contractions and pains. The Doctor would say “Push ma’am” and I would immediately translate.
After my sister was born I tried attending all weekly or monthly doctors’ appointments. I have been involved in her life literally since the first minute she was born and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Because our parents work hard every day most of the day, I am in charge of picking her up every day from school at 2:50 p.m. and taking care of her until one of our parents is off work. I also attend parent teacher’s conferences when needed. Just a few days ago, armed with cupcakes, I was able to attend her first grade Christmas celebration and met some of her little friends.
People, including friends sometimes seem shocked about the amount of time I spend with my sister and they say things like “why do you have to pick her up?” or strangers will ask if she is my daughter, which I get asked all the time so I have stopped denying it in order to void explaining the situation.
It seems to me that for many younger people turning eighteen means seeing your family only during holidays and going out in the world in search for your own family to take care but in our family we believe there is no expiration date to stop helping out and most importantly caring about your family.
I am twenty five years old now and six years have passed since my little sister was born, and although I am older and therefore much more independent than I was then, my involvement with my family only grows, because in my family we understand exactly that, that we are a family that takes care of each other and for that there is no expiration date.
I spend a lot of time with my little sister not because I have to, but because I want to and it helps my parents out. Growing up as a single child having a little sister was like a dream come true, so now I treat her as such. Although the age difference is obvious…
Finish reading Generación Ñ: A son, a brother and a little bit of a father