Classism?

I had a very interesting “discussion” earlier today… if you can call someone throwing around insults like an elementary schooler because you don’t agree with them a discussion.

It seems it’s considered “classist” by some people to suggest it’s best to wait until one can afford to have a child before actually having a child.

Now, I do understand how that statement can be taken wrongly, but most people who say this are referring to being capable of, at the very least, providing for a child’s basic needs – food, clothing, and shelter – before having them.

Apparently, however, even that suggests a prejudice against poor people. Never mind I’ve most often heard that statement from people who know the hell growing up without enough food to eat really is.

Before I continue, let me say this: I am well aware situations can change over time. This statement refers to those who do not have any children, not someone who already is a parent, or whose financial circumstances crumbled after their children were born. No, this refers to someone who is currently struggling and, for whatever reason, chooses to bring a child into their struggle and, as a result, struggles to provide for that child, or ultimately cannot provide for that child, because of what their situation already was.

With that clarity out of the way, I truly fail to see how suggesting it’s best to be certain you can fulfill a child’s basic necessities before you actually have a child is “classist”. Even if you can provide nothing more than basic necessities, you are still able to provide for that child. It’s the bare minimum, but it’s still enough to keep the child alive. Somehow, no matter how many times I explained this, it was read as me saying “if you’re poor, don’t have children”. Interestingly, I never mentioned a particular social or economic class. That assumption came out of the mouth of the people arguing against it.

Let me use myself as an example. I don’t have any children and I don’t plan to. If, however, I somehow changed my mind on that and decided to have a child… that child would die. That sounds morbid, but the job I have cannot even provide me with shelter for myself. So, where would I attain shelter for my child from? Now, I could provide food and I could provide clothes… but where would I put them? I could keep the child in one outfit, so that takes care of the clothing necessity, but that child will become hungry over and over. Without shelter, where will I store the food? Or do I buy food every time the child’s hungry since I can’t store it? And where does the baby sleep? Where do I bathe this baby? Uh-oh. This is a problem. My child has no shelter!

Now, knowing full well I have no capability of providing that child with something so fundamental, why would I go on to have a child? Answer: I wouldn’t. Because I know I can’t!

Yet, that’s “classist”. Now, here’s the trick question: Did I say I wouldn’t have a child because I was poor or did I say I wouldn’t have a child because I could provide food and clothes, but not shelter?

Time’s up. The answer is: Because I couldn’t provide shelter. Everything in that paragraph refers to the child’s needs and my incapability of meeting those needs, or at least one of them.

And that is the gist of it. If anything would prevent someone from providing the basic needs that keep their child alive, no matter what that reason is, to willingly bring in a child into the world while fully aware of that knowledge is irresponsible. My belief isn’t that poor people shouldn’t have children. My belief is anyone who knows ahead of time they cannot fulfill the most basic needs of a child shouldn’t go on to have a child until that changes. Economic class be damned.

However, let’s say for a moment this is “classist”. What difference does it make? At the end of the day, there is a child whose needs cannot be met by their parent(s). Somebody must feed, clothe, and give shelter to that child. If the parent(s) cannot do it, the child will either die of neglect or be relinquished from the parent(s) for that neglect.

There is a somewhat popular meme that says when people talk about getting a pet, they are constantly reminded of the responsibilities of owning said pet, but when people talk about not having a child due not being able to provide for said child, they are told they’ll “figure things out” or “God will provide”. I have heard more times than I care to count there is no “perfect time” to have child, but the idea of hoping things will just fall into place seems like a dangerous gamble to take with a responsibility that’s obviously much larger than a pet. If that gamble falls favorably, that’s wonderful. If it doesn’t, there will be consequences and the child will undoubtedly suffer the brunt of them.

Of course, in the end, it’s not my business and the responsibility of providing for that child is not mine. However, I think about this because, despite my lack of desire for parenthood, I don’t like the idea of any child being neglected. It is in no way fair to force a child into a situation where their needs cannot be met, and “life isn’t fair” should only refer to unavoidable events. Children should and deserve to be born into homes where their needs being met isn’t a worry.

To speak specifically about poverty, if someone is poor, but can still provide their child’s basic needs, there is not a problem. That child is fed, clothed, and has shelter. There is no issue here. If they are, unfortunately, too poor to provide those needs, there is a big problem. The message is not “Poor people shouldn’t have children because they’re poor.” The message is “People who know they cannot provide for a child’s basic needs shouldn’t have children because they can’t provide for the children’s needs.”

And if that is indeed classist, so be it. I care much more that a child’s needs are met than someone pointing a finger at me and screaming I’m classist. Of course, I would not tell any person they can’t have a child in the first place, no matter what their situation currently was. As I already said, it’s not my business and it’s not as if anything would stop them anyway. I only hope, for the sake of their child, they are certain.

Sibling Irony

Something I’ve often heard is that having siblings teaching children how to share.

As an (older) sibling, I can honestly say whoever started that belief deserves to be punched.

Having a sibling did not teach me how to share. It taught me how to hoard and hide my stuff because I didn’t want to share. I hated sharing anything with my sister. I didn’t become better with sharing until I was in my late teens and, ironically, didn’t have to share anymore because someone told me to.

But the effects of having a sibling had already been done and I genuinely feel like having a sibling, and specifically being the older of the two, is what contributed most to my lack of any desire to be a parent.

Like most older siblings, I was often responsible for my sister. I don’t solely mean babysitting. If she did anything wrong, somehow, it was my fault. I was expected to know better because I was the older sibling, but somehow, she never was, no matter how old she got. I was actually aware enough as a kid to point this out, but it’s not like I was ever listened to. The bottom line is I very much resented being given the responsibility of a child I had zero part in bringing into the world, and I’m positive merely being a babysitter a few times would not cause that feeling.

Of course, this varies. Some oldest siblings willingly go on to become parents, and my boyfriend is the youngest of his parents’ three children and doesn’t want kids, despite being the typical “spoiled baby of the family” (until a certain age). This came to my mind because I found it ironic and somewhat hilarious. What was supposed to teach me about sharing and being responsible became the biggest factor in why I want nothing to do with parenthood.

More so, my sister has a rather idealized idea of caring for children. She wants kids of her own someday, and I do not knock her for that, but she knows next to nothing about taking care of someone smaller than her. She once asked me how I couldn’t want kids and while I know this is a question sometimes shared by parents, in this case, it came out of the mouth of a 16-year-old whose closest experience with caring for a child had been looking after a baby doll. That question is annoying, no matter who it comes from, but it makes more sense out of the mouth of someone who is a parent and knows they like the experience than someone who’s never done it. Granted, one could argue I’m not very different in that I’ve never been a parent and am saying it’d be terrible for me.

However, there are two differences here. I’m talking only about myself. I’ve never said no one else shouldn’t want to be a parent. I’m saying nothing more than I don’t. The other is, as I said, my sister has never been responsible for any children, whereas I have, and not just her. I can remember being left to after a small group of daycare children when I was about 8 or under (yes, my mothet was present). Her idea of parenthood comes from what she thinks it is. Mine comes from what I’ve done, and with no say in the matter at that.

Today, as an adult, I don’t hate children and, to an extent, I do enjoy looking after them. There are times when I’d genuinely prefer a child’s company to an adult’s. Occasionally, children who come to my register with their parents will talk about something, and one child surprised me when she was so quiet while waiting in line, but started chatting with me the second her parents came to my counter. It’s rather cute, even if I have no idea what they’re going on about, and heaven knows I’d rather hear that than be yelled at by a customer for the fifth time because I can’t do their return.

But all of those are temporary. At the end of the day, the children are gone and I go home. I can have patience with children precisely because I’m not around them 24/7. It’s easier to remember they’re children and they’re acting like children than it would be if I were over-exhausted and hadn’t slept in three days. I’ve heard parenthood can teach you patience – likely because you have no choice except to learn – but it could also very well double my temper, which happens naturally anyway. “Doing your best” isn’t an excuse when what you do causes you to scar your child. I didn’t realize until I was an adult my own mother was practically winging parenthood the whole time. She tried, but her “best” was only good when everything else was good. If not, hell reigned upon us.

In the end, along with lack of interest in parenthood, I’m not interested in playing Russian Roulette with someone’s life. At least, I can argue I wasn’t willingly given the responsibility of my sister. That was my mom’s doing. But my child? 100% my fault. No room to complain about having to share then! I’d brought that kid into the world. I’d better share!

Four Small Words

Recently, my little state of NJ I call my home had a blizzard. Ah, got to love the strangeness of the seasons. I thought January was the dead of winter.

I was scheduled to work on that day and still had every intent of going. Some people didn’t exactly agree, however. No one in my household supported me going. Two questioned why I’m willing to endure a snowstorm to attend work, but not school (because my job pays me), and one even had the nerve to say something is wrong with me (this same person had to stay home from yesterday night because he got sick from being too drunk, and that’s not the first time; you can guess how seriously I took his opinion). The last of those three tried again to make his vague threat of not picking me up or dropping me off. A threat is not really a threat when you can get around it.

Yes, I know the weather was bad and potentially dangerous. I’m not suggesting they didn’t have a point (though they could’ve made it more tactfully). A small part of me felt bad for going because, as it turned out, if I’d stayed home, the manager on duty could’ve closed the store since I was the only cashier who came in (yes, we still got customers). Whoops! The joys of still learning how retail works. On top of that, she’d told me on the phone I didn’t have to come in, but I somehow missed that part. All I recall her asking is if I’m still coming in. If I’d heard her tell me I didn’t have to, I would’ve stayed home. Plus, I really would’ve loved to have stayed in bed like just about everyone else was probably doing!

So, why was I hellbent on going to work? I wasn’t. But I genuinely like being at my job, not so much because of what I do or how I get paid, but because being around my co-workers is a lot more pleasant than being around my family members. In the end, I worked for 9 1/2 hours that day (I was scheduled for 4 1/2), and I have no regrets because of one thing I got to hear from one of my (now former) supervisors: “I’m proud of you.”

To give some context, since the store was open, that supervisor decided to still come in. A broken down car resulted in him being two hours late, but he still came. I’d say he’s even more determined than I was because while a snowstorm wouldn’t stop me, my mode of transportation being dead would’ve been where I called it quits because I wouldn’t have seen another way. Anyway, when he came in, he came up to the register to see how I was doing and I mentioned I’d been there since morning. He already knew. I wasn’t surprised he knew I was there because he’d called the store three times and I’d answered every call. What I didn’t know was he knew how long I’d been there. Apparently, the first manager had told him. What followed was the quoted sentence.

It’s certainly not the first time that particular supervisor has praised me for what I’ve done, but in those situations, I’d asked for his opinion because I was anxious about if I’m really good at my job or not. On this occasion, I hadn’t asked. I was shocked to hear that come from him, especially since there wasn’t much of customer service to run since we had only a handful of customers. But it made my day and, besides the pride of doing my job, hearing him tell me that made enduring that weather to come to work worth the effort. Few times have I been so happy to have been born with a stubborn personality.

Maybe I still am crazy for going. Maybe people would call him crazy for still coming, in spite of having a broken down car. Maybe everyone who still worked that day is crazy for showing up. I can say with certainty if that ever happens again, I will opt to stay home, if only to let everyone else stay home too. But I really cannot say I wish it hadn’t happened or I regret I went. What he told me is going to stick with me.

Four small words. And they meant everything.

Wrong Way To Motivate

A certain post in one of my Facebook groups reminded me of something from high school.

When I was in tenth grade (for the second time due to transferring schools), one of my teachers once mentioned planning to get her master’s degree. In what subject, I forgot, but I suppose I asked her about it. I really don’t remember what I said, but I do remember her answer. She told me she was pursuing it because she wanted to be able to walk into a store for a pair of $600 shoes and say she has the money for them.

I didn’t know what to think of that. To this day, I still don’t. I do now understand her intention with that answer was likely motivating me to take my own schoolwork more seriously, but that came off as an extremely shallow reason. I realize she meant she was trying to financially better herself, but surely, there was a better way to phrase it.

I won’t lie and pretend I don’t like shopping. I do, and in the last few years, clothes have made the list of what I like to shop for (when it’s of my own wishes, not someone else’s). But I don’t think there’s any article of clothing on the planet that looks so appealing, I’d be willing to give $600 for a single quantity of it. Especially not clothing that’s worn on the ground! One “talent” I do have is the tendency to give my shoes a pounding. That $600 would become a waste in 2 to 3 months.

Obviously, these are my values, but I don’t like the idea of materialism being a motivator for education. For starters, education itself is expensive. I think I’d sound very funny if I told someone I spent thousands of dollars to be able to blow thousands of dollars. That sort of reason would likely motivate only someone whose end goal was wealth. My end goal is stability, which is not synonymous with wealthiness. That doesn’t mean I’d complain if I were rich. It means it’s not necessary for me to be happy. For me, when I can say I fully support myself without living paycheck to paycheck, I’ll see myself as successful, regardless of what the number allowing me that privilege is.

For the sake of not coming off as “holier than thou”, I’ll say right now I do not think I’m better than anyone whose end goal is wealth and purchasing multi-hundred dollar clothing. If that teacher’s given reason makes sense to someone else or motivates, great. I’m just not that person. Yes, there are expensive things I do want and sometimes obtain, but those things have many more functional uses than strutting pavement, so I see them as more valuable for my own use.

I’m certainly not above materials. I have a big collection of books, games, DVDs, and dolls, as well as some smaller collectible things like jewelry, boxes, and stuff animals, and I have a $100 phone. Whenever I think about that teacher’s comment, I think about how much $600 could buy besides a single pair of shoes. Perhaps it’s only because she said shoes I found her answer very weird since shoes are meant to be worn outdoors and would naturally ruin over time from use. Maybe she was exaggerating and merely trying to emphasize a point. Maybe she thought that was the goal of all students. Or maybe it was some kind of last resort since I wasn’t an easy student to motivate. I value the job I have now over school, so she wouldn’t be entirely off the mark. Only wrong it’s money I care about most.

I do plan to return to school, but I have my own motivation and finance is only a part of them. The most important parts are somewhat intangible. And one is human.

Ending One Chapter Starts Another

I know I’m probably going to eat my words somewhere down the line, but this year is already starting off well. And that means something since it didn’t particularly end well.

My job as a cashier is a seasonal position, so after a certain date, I was supposed to be let go. Key word: was.

I learned today it’s planned for me to stay on the team after the seasonal period ends, although it’s probably news I wasn’t supposed to learn this early. When I was working today, I confided in the supervisor on duty it was a concern on my mind, but I didn’t want to come across as a nag for daring to ask the manager in charge of it. She told me to ask anyway since we’re allowed (my workplace has an “open-door policy”, which means you can speak to any manager or supervisor you want at any time if you need something) and since I was already at work, I swallowed my fear and asked when I went on break. The answer was yes. When I returned from break, I very happily (but quietly) thanked the supervisor for encouraging me to do that. She was happy for me.

I work my first job and I didn’t fail at it! I still marvel at being able to hold down a job, so to learn I’m keeping it blew me right out of the water!

The other goodness for 2017 is, although it was unneeded, I got a reminder of just how strong a certain person’s love is for me. The circumstances that revealed it weren’t so pleasant and I have enough humility to admit those circumstances were my fault. No, I’m not asking for a cookie. The end of the matter of was when he became hysterical over me and sobbed for about five to ten minutes. Few things have crushed me with so much guilt as when I realized I caused that. To top it off, he called himself pathetic for crying and pushed me away when I tried to comfort him (after asking for me to do it just two minutes ago), insisting he didn’t deserve it. Let me make that clear: I hurt him, but he was crying over me. He was hysterical over the person who hurt him because he believed it was the other way around and he’d hurt me.

Before that happened, he’d been prepared to wait all day for me because he didn’t yet know I’d already left home. Now, I’ll admit that sounds stalker-ish on the surface, but these plans were arranged and agreed to, and he didn’t have reason to believe they changed.

I’m fortunate to have someone who loves me so much, he deems me worth having an emotional breakdown over, and right after I hadn’t been so kind to him. I deserved that guilt and, really, so much more than that. He once said I spoil him because I often pay for much of our outings since I have a job. He’s wrong. He spoils me with so much love and patience like that. I genuinely love him and I don’t plan on putting him to a test, especially when I know all too well the misfortune of not having people who love you or have your best interests at heart.

I already know the happiness won’t last and there are some difficult times coming up. In fact, there’s one I’ve been aware of for a very long time. But I’ll have to face it when it comes and knowing I have the above, I’m not afraid of it anymore because it’s not a problem I created. For now, however, I’ll simply enjoy the joy ride.