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Megan wakes up every day at 6 a.m. to get her four siblings ready for the day. It's not easy dressing everyone and changing diapers—not to mention getting breakfast on the table. "Sometimes I feel overwhelmed. I get worried sometimes I won't get everything done," Megan says.

Megan also has to make sure her mom has her medication and her grandmother has what she needs. "By the time I leave for school, I feel tired," she says.

Megan gets home from school at 4 p.m., and her responsibilities kick in right away. She cares for her brothers and sisters, tends to household chores, and often doesn't get to cook dinner until after 9 p.m. "She's got as much pressure on her as an adult," Megan's dad Kevin says.

Megan says the demands on her life have cost her friends. "They don't understand what I'm going through," Megan says. "They just pull away. They don't sit with me at lunch. They don't even talk to me in the halls anymore."

Despite her busy life, Megan remains an honor student who tutors other kids after school and is working toward a black belt in karate. Still, her responsibilities take a toll. "With everything that's happening right now, I feel like happiness is not like a big part in my life," she says.
FROM: Childhood Interrupted
Published on October 20, 2006