Each child is unique. If I’ve learned nothing else after being blessed with my own 9 children and fostering 23 children I have certainly learned this point well. Take for instance my oldest son, Austen. Austen’s dad and I divorced when he was around 9 years of age. Immediately after the separation and divorce Austen had this inner belief that he had to become the man of the house. I constantly told him he was a child and he was not responsible as an adult is responsible. But still that boy continued to worry like an adult about things that were not his responsibility. I even did everything I could think of to ease his premature worries about life in general and about family finances specifically. Those were my worries not his but I just never could convince him of that fact. He worried and fretted about everything from how to purchase Christmas gifts for his brothers and extended family members to worrying about having the oil changed on the car. Austen grew up way before his years and as a result he didn’t seem to have the same carefree nature as other teens. Now, he is thirty and probably feeling like he missed something, which he did but not because Mom wanted him to miss it. Instead, it was that sense of responsibility that was deep inside of a boy when it shouldn’t have been there at all.
Now, twenty something years later I’m going through some of this experience again with my youngest son, Irwin. Just this morning I received a text message from Irwin that he needed lunch money. I asked him why he was already needing lunch money in his school account when I had paid for an entire month on October 2nd. He continued to insist “they said” he needed more lunch money. However, upon investigation he had enough money in his account for another seven days. This is the mentality Irwin possesses. He was hungry as a foster child so he protects himself from hunger now. We are constantly fighting the food battle with this child. He worries about every meal and actually counts the meals he has each day. He insists on three meals no matter what time he might partake of the first meal of the day. There are times when he sleeps in on Saturday and he may eat at 1pm but to him this meal is breakfast, leaving the need for lunch and dinner in this particular day. And…believe me….I know about it if he doesn’t get those three meals too!
I hear people say all the time, “the past is the past.” However, that’s not necessarily true for everyone or every circumstance. I know a man in his forties that was once a foster child. Even today when he’s cooking a meal for him and his wife he ends up with a pot big enough to feed a family of six. The same can be said for Irwin when he cooks anything. It’s always in excess, more than he needs. Why? Because at a point in their lives they were without food. There simply was none to be had for them. Hungry and miserable is a desperate place. Those are lows in life that aren’t forgotten no matter how old one may get. Now, just like with Irwin, the self-protection mode kicks in and they are driven to make certain they never go hungry again.
As a child I never had to worry about hunger. As a parent I always made sure my children had enough. However, not every child in this world has those safeguards. Have you ever been so ready for lunch that you watch the clock until lunchtime? What if you were so hungry for lunch, watching the clock until lunch time, then there was no food to be had? Unfortunately, there are many in our world, right here in the United States, that go without food. I see it every day from my office window on the fifth floor in downtown Tulsa, Oklahoma, in the Country’s Heartland.
My Gordo is coming home in a few days and I can’t wait to see my Army son. I miss him each and every day and being without being able to see him in person leaves a gaping hole in my heart. Every military parent understands what it is like. I’m excited for Thanksgiving this year because all my children will be around my table. That is so special. Yet there are mothers who won’t be able to feed their children or even have a table to sit around in a warm, happy, loving home.
As the holiday season approaches I urge everyone to get out and give. Give food to the food banks in your area that provide food to the hungry. Give money to charities that provide for the needy. Take one or two of those little angels off an Angel Tree somewhere and buy a child a Christmas Gift. Go beyond what you did last year. Go beyond yourself and do for others. Believe me you will be blessed beyond your imagination in so many ways. Charity begins at home folks and there is a need right here in America, in our own communities. Let’s take hunger to heart this season and do whatever we can to give. Even a little from everyone will go a long way!
Go out and do something AMAZING!