I talked to one of my friends who has two boys, asked if there was anything I should know before we went shopping. She insisted we get a Land’s End backpack and Keen sneakers. Which, cool, but I simply could NOT get her to understand how that’s just not an option for so many families. Yes, it makes more sense to spend forty bucks once than fifteen bucks three or four times a year, but if you don’t HAVE forty dollars, you just don’t.
She grew up financially stable and her college was paid for. But since they didn’t have a yacht or go to Europe three times a year, she can’t see that she was relatively wealthy. It’s like a wall of static goes up when I try to explain to her. “When the bottom fell off of my sneakers, my mom scraped up twelve bucks for a pair to get me by.” “But that doesn’t make sense, Keens would last until you grew out of them.” “So the option was, a month’s worth of eggs and a cheap pair of sneakers, or good sneakers and no breakfast until next payday.” “But it would just make more sense in the long run to buy the good shoes!” O_o
Later we were talking about calculators. The school list said that a TI-30x would get him through 9th grade, while the TI-84 would likely get him through all of high school. I said I felt bad that we couldn’t afford the more expensive one, and she said that he probably wouldn’t need it anyway. The cheaper one would get him through basic algebra, and “he probably won’t go on to the higher classes anyway.” I started going off about how yeah, when your parents can’t afford the fancy school supplies, you’re disincentivized to strive for the harder classes that need them. If his mom is working two jobs, she doesn’t have time to help him with his homework every night. “Well MY parents didn’t help with MY homework, I just had to sit at the table until it was done.”
I had to stop, leave the conversation before I started yelling. I wasn’t mad at her, exactly, but mad at the world, at the injustice that I don’t know how to fight when I can’t even communicate the concept to one of the good guys.
I should be able to do more.