LETTER: Sad memories of an impoverished childhood
My child poverty experience: I was a child who grew up in poverty, I was one of four raised by a single mom.
I remember re-using my school supplies when everyone else got brand new stuff (most things were used for six years), even the disposable things you’re not supposed to re-use (such as a calendar planner book I re-used for four years). My lunch was a single piece of bread with peanut butter on it with a juice box (and the days of pretending I forgot my lunch at home, and taking ketchup packs from McDonald’s to eat).
Since age five we shared four paper routes to bring food on the table. We were scared to ask my mom for things, the stress made her angry. So things like underwear got used even when full of holes and ripped. My brother stopped wearing underwear, and he started stealing to avoid the fear of asking mom for things. When we got sick, mom got mad (medicine has a cost too) so we frequently hid our illness to keep her happy.
If food went bad, we ate it. I remember once drinking sour milk, it made me very sick. Only two of us graduated high school. Now grown up, none of us can afford post-secondary school. My sister was dependent on free birth control clinics, but with their age 19 cut-off she had a baby and she is now on welfare. I’ll never have a child because I can’t afford it on high school education wages.
This is just a summary of my experience. I don’t have fun memories of Girl Guides, sports or birthday parties – it didn’t fit our budget, and if it was free it conflicted with the paper routes that fed us. I’ll never get my childhood back to enjoy, but I hope more is done to help others in these circumstances.
Karen Smith, Surrey