I understand the growing up poor. I am the eldest of four kids and my parents had no money. We moved from NY to VA in 1983 right before my brother (the baby) was born. My Dad had been laid off, as had a lot of NY state. My maternal grandparents owned a summer home that they let us live in.
It was a decent size but not set up for winter living really as there was little to no insulation and a lot of windows. Every outside wall was covered in windows.
It was very often we didn’t get things as there was no money for it. My Dad worked at a gas station for minimum wage, which I’m not even sure if it was 3.35 yet. Mom worked when she could at a pizza place.
We always got free lunch and had very few new clothes for school. I understood the not having money thing so I could deal with it. The only time I felt shame was when my fourth grade teacher pulled me and another poor girl out, in front of the class, and asked why we had ice cream money but got free lunch. My parents tried to give me the TWENTY-FIVE damn cents once a week to have ice cream like the other kids.
And, that teacher humiliated me over it. She also made fun of my clothes, constantly. By fourth grade I was already developing my own weird style, and my parents let me get away with it, within reason.
The teacher would pick on my clothes, make fun of me for being poor, and then tell me I was fat. I was not fat in fourth grade, I was still slim. I didn’t realize it then but seeing pictures from those years shows it.
I still hate that teacher after all these years. In fact I was going in the grocery store the other night and she was coming out of it. I wanted to trip her with my cane. I wanted to go off on her and tell her how hateful she was but, I just walked on past her seething over it.
(end of comment to Cecily)
I know years ago I wrote about this teacher even saying her name so she might find it someday and realize how hateful and mean she was to some of her students. She seems like the type who actually loved doing that so I will not put her name in here again. And I won’t confront her with it, she’s retired from teaching (thank God and the universe and everything) so she can’t harm anymore students.
I have always wondered if the other student, Tammy, whom she humiliated ever thinks of this. I wonder if she still thinks of those moments in shame and has her head drop down like she’s that eight or nine year old kid again. I hope she has forgotten it. I hope she can hold her head up high.
I also hope Tammy hasn’t developed the obsession for things like I do. Even though I am 33 year there are times when I buy the stupidest things. Like when we’re at a parade I’ll buy myself something from the vendors who are pushing carts full of plastic trinkets and itchy Dr Suess style hats.
When we went to the circus one time years ago, I had to buy another silly overpriced souvenir. In fact when situations like that arise, the poor little girl in me comes out and begs the adult me to buy the stupid things I didn’t get as a child. Now, don’t get me wrong, my parents tried their hardest and did buy me toys, and silly things when they could but, more often than not with four children they just couldn’t afford it.
Now I am trying to fight this urge more often, and I seem to be doing much better with it. I also have been throwing out some of the silly things that I have no need for and that take up valuable space. I’m working on it. And that is the best I can do.