Years and years ago I learned the meaning of phrases like “There but for the grace of God go I.” So today a story about a Trailer Park, and I live here. There probably is no finer place in the world for meeting America. Every skin color you can imagine. LGB and T (“Oh my God, don’t tell anyone I told you I’m trans!” Still fear attached to T). Every degree of poorness to poverty.
The children are wonderful. They have no idea they’re poor, up to age two or three anyway. They play their games in the street, ride their bikes faster than we drive our cars through. Mom’s come home from work and herd a child or two or three into their home. Dad’s come home from work and come back out and fire up the grill and the neighborhood smells wonderful from dinner cooking.
Then, a mom who threw out a cat that Cathy and I re-homed. She may as well throw out the three kids as well, for all the good that roof does the three of them. Cathy started out watching just the three year old while mom cleans houses, through a service. It’s morphed into feeding all three breakfast, taking the boys to the bus stop, bringing the boys in at night until mom gets home. All for the same twenty dollars a day. If mom manages to get to work.
They boys do homework in the morning because mom wouldn’t let them in until dark. The boys get physically sick at school, and Cathy goes for them. Maybe because breakfast at Cathy’s was their first meal since lunch yesterday. Maybe because they like Cathy.
I’ve drilled Cathy in “No.” “No, I won’t take you to the gas station for cigarettes." We haven’t figured out “No, I won’t watch your kids while your drug dealer is here.”
Mama smokes, cigarettes and weed. She drinks with her boyfriends. She has new fingernails every week. I am such a cat, aren’t I? I cannot bear the thought of involving children’s services—yet. The police aren’t interested in marijuana—it’s penny ante.
The other day I found Cathy crying, holding a pair of flip flops that belong to one of the kids. Cathy has taught the little girl her colors, how to count. She takes her on the fall hiking spree in the metro parks, every day. “Look at what the child has to walk in,” she yelled at me, waving the flip flops. After supper Laura and I went to the shoe store.
Cathy was happy, and upset. “How can I explain these. They know I can’t afford them!”
“Say they came from Good Neighbors”; (a locally known charitable organization).
We’ll keep an eye on the kids this winter. Their grandma got shoes for the boys. We’ll see what we can do with her. And, I am calling the health department. The mom needs to quit smoking indoors. Other than that, I really don’t know what to do.