11. Camping is only fun when you’ve never had to do it out of necessity.
12. I truly had no idea until I was in my junior year of high school taking Child Development that Head Start was a program created for children from homes of low income. I simply thought it was a place for me to get a “head start” as a kid.
I still remember my teacher saying verbatim, “No honey, your family was just poor.” in front of the whole class.
13. What hunger really is. I remember waiting for my dad’s payday for the grocery shopping trip and being absolutely ravenous when the food got there.
14. How important ingenuity becomes to eat.
15. Anything shiny on the ground might be a coin.
16. How to cook with the government surplus cheese.
17. Food stamp paper change.
When I was a kid if you used food stamps they would give back the change in food stamp form. My Mom was too “proud” to publicly use them so she would make up a reason to leave & I would have to pay using them – I was 11 or so. She did it every time…I had to learn to keep my head up.
18. Pizza nights are the best birthday present you could ever get.
A whole pizza ordered exactly how you like it, and you get to have more than one slice.
19. Not being able to do extracurriculars. I wanted to be in the orchestra and I wanted to play soccer but we couldn’t afford it so I was told no. Couldn’t afford the uniforms or the gas to get me to practice, and definitely couldn’t afford a violin.
I ended up moving to a largely upper-middle-class area for college. The first boyfriend was rich. He played 9 instruments and played soccer and went skiing since age 6. He voiced that he thought I was lazy and untalented for not having done at least a sport or learned something like a guitar. I explained that we couldn’t afford it but that didn’t seem to register.
He tried to give me his old violin at one point so I could learn and his mother pretty much ripped it out of my hands.
20. Government cheese, doing your laundry in a bathtub using only cold water bc the gas was shut off, trying to spend the night at your friends house bc they had food and a warm room, (thanks Nikki) loving going to school because you could at least eat there, trips to Goodwill for “new” clothes, showers at school because at least there water was warm. Being made fun of because you smelled like kerosene, having lice and no one doing anything about it, going to school with bruises bc your parents took their shitty decisions out in you. I’m so grateful to a handful of people that saw potential in me, I went to college, got a great job, and broke the cycle. Thanks, Tom and Toni.