I am fortunate enough to be able to go to my little girl's preschool for her Halloween parade, so I can celebrate with her. While I'm there, I'm thinking about the many parents who aren't able to do this. Who are working tirelessly to pay for food, clothes, their house, and aren't able to take the time to go to school with their children.
I loved watching children in their cute costumes, excited about pretending to be their favorite characters, or role models. I saw some beautiful choices. One little girl was dressed as Tarzan, wearing a muscly abdomen top. She showed us her Tarzan call, pounding her chest. Another little girl was Princess Vanillope, from Wreck-It Ralph, wearing candy in her hair and dress. There were a LOT of Batmans, Supermans, Ironmans. And of course, as you can imagine some Star Wars thingies. There were a few doctors, an amazing home-made birthday cake, precious animals. I sat in her class with her, as the kids came into the room parading their costumes proudly.
Then walked in a little boy. He wasn't old enough to understand his costume, I'm guessing he was 2 or 3, maybe. He was pushing a shopping cart with a plastic bag with cans, had a drawn on raggedy beard, clothes made to look dirty and torn, and a sign misspelled, written poorly, as if he were illiterate, that said 'Will work for candy'. (I mean he IS illiterate, he's 3, but I think the costume was implying that he SHOULD be literate, but is not.)
My face probably went from shock, to terror, to anger. I probably looked like I was dressed as the Hulk. But it was my natural face. Danny turned and looked at me, his face going through the same metamorphosis.
1.) I don't think poverty, or homelessness is funny. About 1.3 million children are homeless in a given year. (Yeah, I'm smart, I looked that up on the old internet). I'm concerned that some children at the school may be homeless, or have or will experience homelessness, or poverty at some point. I'm praying they don't understand the costume. In fact, I'm praying that no child pays attention to the costume. Hopefully they just think he's a customer at Meijers. (I know I look raggedy most shopping trips to Meijer). Hopefully the reaction is so sparse that the parents give up and go with a different costume next year.
2.) Can you let your innocent child dress up as something fun that he understands? I truly believe he has no idea what he's wearing or why, or why he's pushing a shopping cart containing garbage around while his friends dress up as super heroes, or furry animals. Instead, he is a part of your joke. Not that I think it's funny, but why don't the parents just dress as their ignorant, self-absorbed, privileged ideas, and leave their toddler out of it?
Sadly, I heard other parents laughing, and taking it lightly, as intentioned. "Oh, isn't that cute!" they exclaimed. "Hey, we could do that with Carton, or Prickler!" (or whatever names they were using. I don't usually make fun of people's names choices but Hulk mad, ok?)
Which brings me to
3.) Can I just go to a friggin preschool Halloween party without getting pissed off? I'm deleting wildly, trying to frantically censor my anger, outrage, disgust. (I mean I just said 'friggin', and deleted a noun after that last sentence.) Everywhere I go I see so much ugliness in the world. So much Racism, So much Violence. Children suffering from the hatred that the adults are throwing at each other. Do I have to see it in the form of an unknowing child?
I can hear the parents of little Money-Bags scoffing at me. "Give me a break." they would probably say, "It's just a joke. It's funny, why do we have to be politically correct all the time?" And trust me, I'm a real jerk most days, (all days) and am known for my off-color humor. But certain things break my heart. And as a mom I feel it more acutely. And children who suffer because of circumstances out of their control is one of my main bugaboos.
Maybe the parents of $Bags would even do more than scoff or roll their eyes at my reaction. Maybe they would be angry. "People make the choice to be poor or homeless" they might respond. I can'tevengetintomyresponsetothatone, I'll break this keyboard.
When my children are hungry, (can I even rightfully use the word hungry?) I'm able to quickly give them something to eat, the only hesitation due to the choice of what kind of healthy abundant snack they would prefer. (Except about once a week when we have to go to the store, and they have to eat a processed carb, because I haven't gotten to Meijer yet wearing my torn ugly clothes, with my unbrushed hair and bags under my eyes, much like the kids Halloween costume. "Mommy, can I have an apple?" "No, eat these buttery crackers and some fatty meat!"). My heart aches knowing that there are other children in our very zip code who may be asking, or wanting something to eat, and are not able to receive it. And when I tuck my little girl into her bed at night, I bury the thoughts of other kids in cars or shelters who hear or feel the howling wind a lot differently than we do. (And we really need new windows, these things are ancient.)
I feel so hopeless, helpless, sad, angry. What can I do? I type my message out into a white square. I send it out into space. Can anyone hear me? If so, how can we make this stop? Let's start with not making fun of poverty, please? Then maybe we can start to get rid of the poverty itself.