Growing Up Essay

Growing Up Essay-45
Every week, on Tuesday and Thursday, I boarded a bus that took me away from my mostly Black and mostly poor schoolmates, to a mostly white upper middle class school.It was here that I learned to hate my circumstances — to be ashamed of being on free lunch.“It means you’re poor,” I can remember a boy whose dad was a surgeon telling me.I didn’t know what I should write on them, but I knew it should be important, something that I would be able to look back on as an adult to help guide me. When I was 11, I kept a box full of moments, a written record of all the times I thought my mom was being a bad mom for being poor.

Every week, on Tuesday and Thursday, I boarded a bus that took me away from my mostly Black and mostly poor schoolmates, to a mostly white upper middle class school.It was here that I learned to hate my circumstances — to be ashamed of being on free lunch.“It means you’re poor,” I can remember a boy whose dad was a surgeon telling me.I didn’t know what I should write on them, but I knew it should be important, something that I would be able to look back on as an adult to help guide me. When I was 11, I kept a box full of moments, a written record of all the times I thought my mom was being a bad mom for being poor.

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And I would wager that most of them still believe a homeless or impoverished person just isn’t doing enough to help themselves.

I was one of those people, even if I was just a kid.

They sat around card tables playing spades, sharing cheap liquor, laughing, and talking about their next plan for getting the hell out. My mother was poor and imperfect, but she wasn’t poor because she was imperfect. Here’s what I understand now that I didn't as that gifted kid on free lunch: Most people fear poverty, and if they don't, they're just being foolish.

They took pride in the work they did, though they were never paid enough for that work. I could not prove she was a hard worker by showing you something we owned, but I could tell you about hearing her sob after she had to ask me to forgo Christmas presents so my siblings could have something on the holiday morning. It only took a month before I threw away all of the notecards about my mother. I couldn’t prove it by paying for my own lunch, but I knew she worked hard. It is exhausting and unpleasant, and if you're like me, you need to control things because that fear is truly terrifying.

On weekends, she led all four of her complaining children in a deep clean of our house and yard.

My mother was constantly in motion, always doing something that needed to get done, yet never catching up.

“If you’re poor, it means your family doesn’t work hard.

If your parents worked harder, then you wouldn’t be on free lunch.”We were children, and I assume he did not hear the cruelty in his words.

I could try out for cheerleading, but the girls whose parents paid for cheer camp would always make the team.

I was in gifted classes, but I was the only person in gifted classes who was also on free lunch, and everyone knew it.

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