A Letter to My Son's Punk "Friends" (You Might Need A Little Perspective On What Poverty Is)

Dear So-Called "Friends" of My Younger Son,

I am disgusted with you.  I mean really, REALLY disgusted.  (You can ask my family about the tirade they had to endure when I discovered the little piece of information that I'm getting ready to share with you.  It wasn't pretty.)  

My younger son, your "buddy", is twelve.  Over the summer, he managed to save up enough money (from a weekend lemonade stand, birthday money, and dog-sitting....hours of work, I might add) to purchase his very own laptop computer.  This was no small feat for a young guy who enjoys impulse buys of chocolate and soda.  But he stayed focused and saved up every penny he could get for months, and I am pretty proud of him.
And he is pretty proud of himself, too (which he absolutely should be).  And he is proud of that laptop, too.  (Far more proud than if it had been handed to him brand new by doting parents who cater to his every whim.)  
Like anyone who has accomplished something remarkable (child or adult), he wanted to tell people about it.  He especially wanted to share his accomplishment and the acquisition of his new prized possession with his "friends" (I'm talking about you here)....mostly because he wanted to play Minecraft with you, something he has wanted to do for months.  
But instead of a "Hey, that's pretty cool.  Let's play Minecraft!"  He got insults.  What did you say?
"Too bad you had to buy it for yourself because your parents are too poor."
And it's not the first time.  Apparently you horrible little rugrats (I'm trying very hard to keep this G-rated) have made it a habit of throwing the poverty insult in my son's direction.
Initially, I was just completely baffled.  Having experienced poverty, REAL poverty as a child, I couldn't figure out what you kids (and some of you are well into your teen years) were talking about.  We live in a large house in a fairly nice neighborhood.  My kids always have enough to eat (Even the teenagers who eat like there is no tomorrow).  They have clothes that fit. All of their physical needs are met.  This family, is far FAR from poor.
But my son enlightened me.  He doesn't have a cell phone...or an iPad...or the newest craziest game system...with hundreds of dollars worth of video games to go with it.  Until, he purchased his own, he didn't even have his own laptop.  
Gasp!  How can my children stand to live under such horrible conditions?
Here's the deal, you snotty little brats.  You in your cushy suburban palaces, busy wasting your parents' money.  You have no idea what poverty looks like.  So let me give you a little first-hand perspective.
Poverty isn't a lack of expensive gizmos and gadgets.  Poverty is going to bed hungry.  It's living without electricity...not just to run your PS4 or recharge your iPhone...but having to do homework by candlelight, no electricity to illuminate nightlights for a little girl that's scared of the dark.  It's having to heat up water on the stove to bathe in because there is no hot water heater.  It's living in a house so cold the water in the toilet bowl freezes in the winter.  It's having rats crawl in bed with you at night.
Poverty is living in horrible conditions and not having the money to meet basic needs.  What scares me more than anything, is that you see your expensive play toys as necessities.  That you see my son as somehow deprived because he goes without them...or has to buy them himself.  This is what affluence does to our children.  It skews their perspectives on what is important in life.  It turns them into mindless consumers and demanding leeches.
And just so we are clear, selfish punks, I could have purchased the laptop for my son if I had wanted to.  But I chose to give him something more valuable...the satisfaction of hard work and delayed gratification and a goal met.  I gave him the personal pride of counting out those hard-earned bills into the cashier's hand as he purchased HIS laptop.  Because that laptop belongs to him in a way none of your expensive gizmos or gadgets will ever belong to you....because he earned it.  Mommy and Daddy didn't buy it for him in some shallow attempt to win his affection or appease his whining.  He alone earned and saved every dollar.  And the lessons he learned and the self-esteem he reaped from the experience are far, far more valuable than any of your toys.  Next year all of your technological trinkets and baubles will be outdated and you'll be crying for new ones, but my son will still have the value of his laptop long after it's become obsolete (probably within the next 6 months, right?)
Because the value isn't in the thing itself.  The value is in his attitude and perspective.  The value is in the person he is becoming.
I truly hope none of you immature urchins ever have to experience poverty first-hand.  But maybe your parents should take you camping or something, let you do without video games for a few days.  Or maybe just get you some coal and switches for Christmas...Or better yet, make you earn your new XBox One.....I think you could all use a little perspective.
One Sorely Disenchanted Human Being (and Pissed-Off Mother)

 Originally posted on my blog.


In order to comment on BlogHer.com, you'll need to be logged in. You'll be given the option to log in or create an account when you publish your comment. If you do not log in or create an account, your comment will not be displayed.