I have definitely had times when money was thin. I actually would think it odd if I haven’t. After all, I have been the sole provider for two children since before I had even graduated high school. Money is bound to be tight at times in that kind of situation.
While I have had difficulties, there are two things that always come first in my budget. It does not matter how much (or how little) money I have for any given time period, these two things will ALWAYS be taken care of. My kids will have a roof over their head and food in their bellies.
It doesn’t matter if we have to live in a bachelor apartment or the beautiful home we currently have, they will have four walls and a roof. It’s not always (okay, never) as neat and clean as I want it to be, but it’s home. This is something I would maintain above any other bills I ever receive.
Food in their bellies is just as important. Not only because it would suck to be hungry (or to put up with hungry kids), but because it is necessary to maintain health. This doesn’t mean they will always LIKE the food that is available to them, but it will always be there. If I had to borrow money for food for my kids, I would do it.
I am not having financial troubles right now. In fact, my finances are in pretty good shape. I still have money in the bank from my income tax return (though it is steadily dwindling), I have two regular paying jobs, I receive the CCTB, and I’m good at budgeting. My bills are currently overpaid, there is a roof over our heads and food in my cupboards. None of this prevented T from going to his principal today and telling her he had no food.
T is like me, he prefers winter over summer, would rather stay home than go out in search of something to do, and he’s not a morning person. Because of the last reason, mornings can be a little rough to organize (thank goodness we have L, he IS more of a morning person). Wednesday and Thursday mornings are especially difficult due to the fact that we leave an hour earlier than any other day of the week. Imagine how thrilled I was this morning when both boys were “ready to go” half an hour early!
T wanted to eat cereal as soon as he got up this morning. Any regular day of the week this wouldn’t be a problem, but on Wednesdays and Thursdays, I get them to pack their lunchboxes first. I have “to-go” breakfast items stored away in the event that they don’t get through their morning routine fast enough to eat before being hauled out the door. We discussed the reasoning for doing it this way and he (after some arguments) agreed that he would do it Mommy’s way.
By the time I was dressed in my uniform and had my hair done, T was sitting at the table with his bowl of cereal. I asked him if his lunch was packed and he proudly told me it was. I made my (100% necessary) cup of tea and had just sat down to try to catch the weather report when T ran off to the bedroom. I called him back to me (missing the weather) and asked if he was all ready for school. We verbally went through the morning checklist (homework, backpack packed, lunch packed, medications done, teeth brushed, face washed) and he said check after each item except teeth brushing. I sent him to the bathroom to brush his teeth and he took off from there right back to the bedroom. Once it was time to leave, we went through the “things I need today” checklist (homework, running shoes, jacket, lunch, backpack, library books). He “checked” everything on the list. Out the door we went.
After school, T came out without his backpack. We went back in to get it. T headed down to the classroom and I hung out in the office while I waited for him. On our way out of the school, we met up with the principal in the hallway. She informed me that T had no lunch in his bag today. I was floored.
She told me that she had gotten him something to eat from the breakfast program room. At our school, no kid goes hungry. I let her know that T should of had his lunch with him. She informed me T had told her at lunch that we had nothing at home for him to take for lunch. I know my face showed my anger because we finished our conversation right then.
On our way home, T and I discussed how this was SO wrong. He had not only lied to me and to his principal, but had lied in a way that made it look like Mom wasn’t taking care of him properly. I am just lucky that the principal knows better.
Once home, it was time to lay out discipline. No TV, no video games, no after school snack and, most definitely, no choices when it comes to supper (I usually let the boys pick out what veggie they want, how they want the meat cooked or something along those lines). No going down to a friend’s house or having anyone come over to play today. For today, he was grounded.
T informed me that this wasn’t fair. Buddy, let me tell you about not fair! It was not fair that I was lied to THREE TIMES before we even left the house this morning. It was not fair to lie to the principal. It was not fair to take advantage of the school’s breakfast program just because you didn’t want what is available at home. It is not fair that the principal had to make sure YOU had something to eat during HER lunch break. It is not fair that you made me feel like s*** at school today. The “not fair” you caused was MUCH bigger than the “not fair” you received.
We have food, we have multiple lunch choices, we have enough time for everyone to get their stuff done in the morning, the boys even have the option and opportunity every night to pack their lunch for the next day if they want. Packing lunches is their job because they know better than I do what they will want to eat on any given day. Doing this also gives them some responsibility and accountability for their own eating habits. After three (T) and four (L) years in school, I trust them to do this job and accept responsibility for what they take with them.
Grammy was planning on taking the boys for a treat at Tim Horton’s in the morning after I go to work. She was at school with us when T came out. L will still get his treat, but T better make sure he has his lunch packed and time to eat his cereal in the morning. ‘Cause buddy, life’s not fair.
No matter how dark the day, the sun is always shining somewhere!