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Posts Tagged ‘poor kids’

Poor Kids Are Awesome

Crawdad Hunters

A few days ago my son, Jack, said “growing up poor was awesome.”

I pressed him to explain what the hell he was talking about.  As far as I’m concerned being poor is not awesome, it’s not even kind-of-cool. Being poor sucks and ranks right up there with having the chicken pox.

First, I want to state, we have never been poor.  When Jack and Mary were little, we were clinging to the lower end of middle class but we were never poor.  Jack and Mary however, love telling stories about their glorious, impoverished, redneck childhood.

When they were little, we never went on vacations. Instead, we spent almost every weekend in the summer playing in the creek not far from the house. I would pack up their friends, Bryce and Kay, some cheap red sodas and crackers.  They would slide around on the little rock water fall for hours and we would catch army’s of crawdads, then then turn them all loose.

One winter we couldn’t afford to go to the skating rink in Little Rock so we tried to make one in the yard with a giant piece of plastic and the garden hose. It didn’t work but we laughed a lot.

All their clothes came from Wal-Mart. Until Jack was in 6th grade. The whole family was ridiculously  proud of his first “expensive” pair of  shoes.  Alex paid $80 for a pair of And One basketball shoes. The entire team was impressed. Back then, it was a really big deal when anyone at Fountain Lake got a new pair of Nikes much less And Ones.

Ok, we were pretty broke most of the time. The kids never qualified for free lunches but I do remember, after church we would roll through the Burger King drive through and get one happy meal. One child got the burger and one got the fries and they split the drink.  A two happy meal day was a really big deal.

At least once a year Alex had to pawn his 9 mm hand gun so we could buy school supplies (those cost 120 for both kids) or buy Christmas presents.  But we always paid off the loan and  got his gun back. Good news now Alex has an arsenal and he hasn’t pawned anything in years.

But all their  friends were in the same shabby economic party barge so they didn’t realize just how broke we were. We had food, electricity and a lot of fun. I grew up wealthy so at least once a week I had a meltdown but the truth is the kids were really, really happy and well adjusted.

The really great thing about kids who grow up on a shoe string….they are  very easy to impress. Great big malls, elaborate Christmas lights, concerts and nice shoes make them so happy.

Kids who grow up with money, in big cities, are rarely in awe…of anything. They’ve already seen better. But poor kids are pretty excited about everything, they’re amazed, the recognize the beauty, they marvel and smile.

My youngest son, Sandor, still says, “Oh my goodness” when we walk into the Hot Springs Mall at Christmas time.  And our Mall is tiny, but Sandor who is nine, thinks its magical. (And yes, he really says “oh my goodness”, he also plays football so don’t make fun of him.) Imagine how he’ll react when he sees Rockefeller Center or Big Ben.

Maybe Jack and Dolly Parton are right. There is a noble magic to growing up almost poor.  I just hope that sense of wonder and awe  stay with my kids for the rest of their lives.

This is a repost for a few years ago cause I love it.  Let me know what you think.  I live for your feedback. And if you really like it share it please. Thanks!

Poor Kids Are Awesome

Crawdad Hunters

A few days ago my son, Jack, said “growing up poor was awesome.”

I pressed him to explain what the hell he was talking about.  As far as I’m concerned being poor is not awesome, it’s not even kind-of-cool. Being poor sucks and ranks right up there with having the chicken pox.

First, I want to state, we have never been poor.  When Jack and Mary were little, we were clinging to the lower end of middle class but we were never poor.  Jack and Mary however, love telling stories about their glorious, impoverished, redneck childhood.

When they were little, we never went on vacations. Instead, we spent almost every weekend in the summer playing in the creek not far from the house. I would pack up their friends, Bryce and Kay, some cheap red sodas and crackers.  They would slide around on the little rock water fall for hours and we would catch army’s of crawdads, then then turn them all loose.

One winter we couldn’t afford to go to the skating rink in Little Rock so we tried to make one in the yard with a giant piece of plastic and the garden hose. It didn’t work but we laughed a lot.

All their clothes came from Wal-Mart. Until Jack was in 6th grade. The whole family was ridiculously  proud of his first “expensive” pair of  shoes.  Alex paid $80 for a pair of And One basketball shoes. The entire team was impressed. Back then, it was a really big deal when anyone at Fountain Lake got a new pair of Nikes much less And Ones.

Ok, we were pretty broke most of the time. The kids never qualified for free lunches but I do remember, after church we would roll through the Burger King drive through and get one happy meal. One child got the burger and one got the fries and they split the drink.  A two happy meal day was a really big deal.

At least once a year Alex had to pawn his 9 mm hand gun so we could buy school supplies (those cost 120 for both kids) or buy Christmas presents.  But we always paid off the loan and  got his gun back. Good news now Alex has an arsenal and he hasn’t pawned anything in years.

But all their  friends were in the same shabby economic party barge so they didn’t realize just how broke we were. We had food, electricity and a lot of fun. I grew up wealthy so at least once a week I had a meltdown but the truth is the kids were really, really happy and well adjusted.

The really great thing about kids who grow up on a shoe string….they are  very easy to impress. Great big malls, elaborate Christmas lights, concerts and nice shoes make them so happy.

Kids who grow up with money, in big cities, are rarely in awe…of anything. They’ve already seen better. But poor kids are pretty excited about everything, they’re amazed, the recognize the beauty, they marvel and smile.

My youngest son, Sandor, still says, “Oh my goodness” when we walk into the Hot Springs Mall at Christmas time.  And our Mall is tiny, but Sandor who is nine, thinks its magical. (And yes, he really says “oh my goodness”, he also plays football so don’t make fun of him.) Imagine how he’ll react when he sees Rockefeller Center or Big Ben.

Maybe Jack and Dolly Parton are right. There is a noble magic to growing up almost poor.  I just hope that sense of wonder and awe  stay with my kids for the rest of their lives.

 

This is a repost for a few years ago cause I love it.  Let me know what you think.  I live for your feedback. And if you really like it share it please. Thanks!

My Oldest Kids Got Ripped Off In Life

jackandmaryI couldn’t sleep last night.  At 3:00 am I realized my two oldest children, Jack and Mary, are getting screwed…big time.

When Lexie graduates from high school next month I’m going to host some sort of party/reception. Nice food, big smiles and pictures…cause I’m so proud of her!  I didn’t do that for Jack or Mary.  I think a bunch of us just went to dinner at Don Juan’s, ate too much cheese dip, and called it a day.

And several months ago I told Lex, if she gets a full ride to college we would buy her some sort of new/used vehicle.  She’s been driving a Ford Explorer that Mary totaled twice. It’s time to bury that thing.

Every single car we bought for Mary and Jack (or they bought for themselves ) was beyond crappy. They had terrible awful ugly cars. Because we didn’t have the money to buy them anything decent.

When Jack and Mary were in high school (and they both earned 100 percent full rides to college too) Alex and I made less money AND there were four kids at home. Sandor was a baby boy, Lexie was in elementary school and they were both in high school.  The pizza pie was sliced pretty thin back then, so nobody every got anything nice new.

When Jack and Mary were little they would split a single happy meal. Somebody got the fries and somebody got the burger. We ate things like “pizza toast” for dinner twice a week. That’s toast with red sauce and a slice of cheese.

Jack was in sixth grade the first time we bought him a sixty dollar pair of real basketball shoes…that didn’t come from Wal-Mart and it was a big damn deal.

Several times a year Mary and Jack would come home to a dark house cause the electricity had been shut off.   We’d always get it turned back on it just took some “doing.”…maybe a trip to the pawnshop with Alex’s 9mm.  (we always got the gun back).

Our life isn’t like that anymore. We make a little more money now and Jack and Mary are grown up. They take care of themselves.  So we have greater resources and fewer folks to take care of. That means Sandor and Lex live a blessed life compared to Jack and Mary.

Hell, last week I bought Sandor a 20 dollar yoyo and all he had to do was take out the garbage and wash my car.

But Jack and Mary also got different versions of Alex and Diana back then. Alex played basketball in the yard all the time with Jack. And they played hard. In fact I organized a father and son basketball tournament , Cobra Jam, just so my guys could show off their skills. Back then, Alex went on field trips and would even do garnish demonstrations at school for the kids.  I threw massive 4th and 5th grade Halloween parties and Alex scared little children till they peed. And I was enormously impulsive and funny. One night Alex came home and to find the kids and I were in the yard at midnight trying to create an ice skating rink. They had a pet snake one winter, so we went out and caught fifty frogs then froze them…… in the freezer. Yeah, there were frogs in zip locks jumping around in our freezer for almost an hour. I was the first one in line to jump off the high dive every summer and I’d spend hours squatting in creeks to catch crawdads with the kids.

We were pretty poor but we had a lot of energy and bad ideas back then. We were different versions of Alex and Diana. We’ve never been able to give the all the kids the same thing or the same experiences. Though I wish I could.

Actually, I don’t know which version is better but I do know we’ve given them all every thing we could, from pizza toast to graduation parties.  We’ve given them our everything, heart body and soul.