Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Foodless in America

I have always engaged with and found friends in people who have led colorful lives.  They have way more interesting stories to tell of their "glory days" and have experiences the rest of us may not have enjoyed.  Especially in the area I live in.  Or people who have had world experience outside of their neighborhoods or families.  They have a widened view of what is real.

I live in Northern Utah County.  Sometimes the people here are myopic.  What is myopic?  It means shortsighted or nearsighted, lacking imagination or intellectual insight.  Or to put it plainly they sometimes can't see past their noses.

Sometimes Mormons who have grown up in our society have never stepped out of bounds and experienced things.  You know, we don't drink alcohol or coffee, we don't smoke or do illicit drugs.  But we sure do drink a lot of Coke and take a lot of anti-depressants.  We don't have sex outside of marriage  But we have the highest porn addiction stats in the US.  Now I'm not saying one has to drink alcohol or take drugs or have premarital sex to experience the "outside" world.  One of the best ways to experience these things is by watching how it affect those around us.  For some people this is enough.  For some, they wait until they have 4 or 5 kids then go off on some crazy midlife crisis and destroy their families, leave the Church, etc.  Or, of course, you can sow your wild oats as a teenager.  Not that I'd recommend it.

A lot of Mormons go around trying to outdo their neighbors.  Making sure everyone is dressed just so or has their happiest faces on at Church even though their lives at home behind closed doors are a nightmare.  I know men who hide major porn addictions from everyone and put on this "I'm such a great guy act" at Church then go home and treat their wives and family like utter shit. Or the mom who has to be everywhere and do everything for everybody but ingests 40-50 Lortab a day to be able to get it done.  I kid you not.  40-50 Lortab a day!  Let alone still being alive how does she poop?

There is this idea in our LDS society of being perfect or at least having the facade of perfection for everyone to see.  I call their bluff.  Luckily, in my congregation I see very little of that going on.  We are all struggling along with each other and helping each other when we can. I appreciate how open my congregation is with each other.  Sharing their stories of addiction, abuse, depression to help others better understand when it happens to them or a loved one.  Because I have friends in my congregation who have experienced teenagers who use their agency to it's fullest I have a little more compassion for my own situation.  Plus, I was a little shit until I grew up and had some "real life" experiences of my I'm more compassionate towards my friends' experiences.

Another thing that helps me be more empathetic and compassionate is because I'm married to a Marriage and Family Therapist.  Because he is a therapist people think, incorrectly, that I am equally qualified.  Psh!  I will listen and love you but I got nothin' when it comes to helping you the way he can.  I can only draw on my own experiences and the experiences of those around me to give you any "therapy".

Also, my experience as a school secretary really opened my eyes to some of the things that go on around me.  I loved those little kids.  Sometimes they would come into the office and my face was the first one they'd see and they'd just need someone to love them up and send them on their way.  I held several little ones on my lap at my desk and let them cry because that's what they needed.  Sometimes a band-aid made it all better.  Or the ubiquitous bag of ice.  We all need to feel love and have attention given and sometimes that stupid ice bag was it.

There were also the children who were in abusive homes. Or homes wherein there was illicit drug use.  There were children who came in of whom I am sure school lunch--they would receive free lunch--was their only meal of the day and I was glad that they had school breakfast, too.

Lately, I have seen on a popular social media site a northern Utah County woman's insistence that children in America do not go to bed hungry.  That the free lunch program that is federally funded does not need to be a part of our district because it is federal money.  This is also the type of person who doesn't believe in using federal dollars to fund special education program for the mentally disabled or classrooms for children who have autism. Also this is the type of person who does not believe in using federal dollars to fund Title 1 programs in lower income schools.  This woman stated that these kids who receive free lunches and breakfast through federally funded programs should just have their parents make them a sandwich and put an apple into a bag and there is lunch.  That's simple if you HAVE THE MONEY AND THE FOOD TO DO THAT KIND OF THING.

And yes, people do take advantage of the system.  I haven't dug a deep hole in the ground to put my head into it. Hell, we've been poor enough over the early years that my children could have qualified to receive free lunch and breakfast but we always had enough money to pay for lunches or make lunches to send with them.  But let's face it I am THAT lazy mom who doesn't care to get up and make lunches for her people.  Eat at school!

I've been in the lunchrooms and seen the kids who don't get food at home.  They eat everything that's on their plate then ask for their friends.  Then they take the leftover food and put it in their pockets for later.  Yes, even in the wealthier parts of this school district they do this.

Do we need federal monies to do this?  Why not? This district takes federal monies only for the special ed programs and for school lunch.  We do not take money for Common Core or any other programs.  Could we continue to fund special ed and free school meals if we lost the federal funds?  No.  It would be impossible. (And don't even get me started on what this woman thinks about special ed funding because she doesn't believe in that either.  Lucky her.  She has healthy children.  See what I mean about being myopic?) So suck it up, lady.  As long as I am around I will fight for my neighbors and friends who need these programs and are lucky enough to have federal monies around to fund them.  We won't all need a handout but isn't it nice to have around when or if you ever do?