Saturday, April 24, 2010

Books for kids

I was just talking to Jenn about this . . .

Remember in school when the teacher would pass out the book order sheets, that listed all kinds of books and activities/materials, at discounted prices? We'd take the sheets home, mark them up with Xs or circles (like above) and hopefully our parent would send a check with us to school so we could order books.

The day the book orders were delivered to the classroom was always great. It would be weeks after the orders had been placed, and I don't know about anyone else, but I'd always forgotten about the orders. Our teacher usually announced that the books had arrived near the end of the day, because no one could concentrate on class after that. It was like Christmas or a birthday when the book orders arrived - maybe even better because it's such a surprise. I would always have finished at least one of my books the first evening before bedtime.

Those book orders are a really special memory of mine.

But what about the kids whose parents could or didn't ever order books for their kids? How did they feel when the book orders arrived, the class went crazy, and they sat there knowing they woudln't have any books passed to them? I know we don't order books for our kids every time they bring home an order form, but we do at least half of the time. Most of the decision for us has to do with whether or not they're doing a good job taking care of their things at the time. If they're being responsible, I'll get them books. If not, I tell them they're going to have to wait until next time, and show me in the meantime that they're going to do a better job of taking care of their things.

It's these seemingly little things that can really make an impact on a kid for the good or the bad. I know as an adult, I cringe when my more well-off peers and co-workers ask why we only drive one car, or why we haven't bought a house yet. There are a lot of "why don't you just dip into your savings?" and "why don't you just use your credit card?" sort of questions thrown around - and I'm sure these people mean no harm, but still it puts me in an awkward position - do I explain our financial situation? Do I need to - is it any of their business? What if our decisions aren't based on lack of money but a concious decision to live a more simple lifestyle? Do I have to explain that?

So back to the kid - how does the kid in class feel when his/her classmates say, "where are your books?" and "why didn't your parents order any for you?"

I wonder how many teachers have bought books for kids whose parents couldn't or didn't?

I think the next time we order books this way, I'm going to send along a little extra money and ask the teacher to get a book for a couple kids whose parents didn't order them anything. I guess some parents might balk at this (pride) but maybe the teacher could just tell the kid that the book company accidentally sent some extras.


Caro said...

Oh Ashley, this post hit me hard. I was one of those kids that didn't have much. My family was regular middle-class, but my parents busted their backs to afford a private school for me. My classmates were the Governor's daughter, the senator's niece, the CEO's son, etc. I remember vividly the feelings of I don't fit in, I'm not like them, I'll never have what they have, We'll never own a mansion like theirs. I'm convinced that many of my decisions in life branched from these feelings of insecurity, and it was until recently that I was finally able to shake them off entirely.
Yes it's a dark and scary place for a child, that of comparison. At least I know for me it was.

Ashley said...

I felt that way too, though when I look back I realize we were somehow able to afford quite a bit. Piano lessons, camps, etc. Yet many of my friends were really well off. They went on vacations which required airplanes, ours were always drives to see family. They ate at country clubs, we ate at pizza hut. Hardly poverty, yet I really felt the difference and I think more than anything it has affected my perspective on those with lots of money. Prejudice against the wealthy is hard for me to overcome.

Jenn @ Juggling Life said...

What a great idea to send some money in for other kids--some of those books are like 97 cents.

Books were the one thing my mom scraped up money for NO MATTER WHAT. I will always appreciate that.

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