Story by Makaila Quitaro
I always felt weird growing up.
When all my classmates went crazy for the newest movies and stars, my sister and I mooned over movies like “My Fair Lady,” or “Singin’ in the Rain.” We had crushes on guys like Marlon Brando and James Dean. We wanted to be as elegant and talented as the black-and-white movie goddesses Rita Hayworth and Audrey Hepburn.
This is what I know, love and live every day of my life. It’s something that has brought my family and me together.
Speaking of family, think of a typical one.
What do you see? A mother, father and maybe some kids?
Ask me to picture a family and I’ll give you a different description: a grandmother, her brother-in-law and sister-in-law and my little sister.
My grandmother is my legal guardian. Many other students at Amat have grandparents who sign the parent/legal guardian signature when they sign official school documents.
A legal guardian is just another type of family member. The state deems him or her responsible for kids whose parents either died or could not care for them.
But having a legal guardian is not a bad thing.
“It’s not glamorous and fancy but it’s a whole lot better than what could be,” said my sister, freshman Mariah Quitaro, when I asked her what she thought about living with our grandmother. “Yeah, it’s frustrating and I tend to yell a lot more than I know everyone would like, but when I think about what could have happened to me or you without our family, it’s just something unimaginable.”
I began living with my grandmother when I was three months old. Around the age of five, I realized that my living situation was different and began to ask, “Why me?”
Growing up, my sister’s friends and my friends would always ask about our parents.
It was always the same questions: “Why don’t you live with your parents?” or “Don’t they love or want you?” or “What happened?”
How really are you supposed to answer those?
My sister and I aren’t the only ones living with someone other than our parents.
“Living with my grandparents is all I’ve ever known,” senior Alisia Magdaleno said. “They’re like a second set of parents. Sure it makes me feel guilty a lot of the time when I want to hang out with friends but I wouldn’t change it. Because of them I am more connected to my religion and heritage, and I speak Spanish fluently. Without them not only would I be lost but they would be as well.”
As for me, I’m weird and that’s OK. I like old movies and old-fashioned things. I know all the old wives tales and home remedies that only grandparents would know. To my friends I am “Mommy Makaila.” I am always prepared and responsible, but if I wouldn’t change anything about my situation, even if I could.
I wouldn’t be who I am without this way of life. Like my sister said, “it isn’t glamorous but life without my grandma is just unimaginable.”