She thought we were foster kids, coming to claim our presents.
I'll let that sink in a minute...All day long, as we received the gifts bought for these kids who will spend Christmas away from their parents, this lady oohed and ahhed over each expensive toy and gadget, claiming how happy it made her to know these kids would be looked after this holiday season. Yet, when she saw (what she thought were) two of those same foster kids, she became emotionally violent.
At about 3 in the afternoon, one of the workers asked me if EJ does any sports. I said no. They had seen him working on his school work and knew he was homeschooled, so her next question to me was this: "What do you do to socialize him?"
Um, have you met my son?
It was seriously the hardest thing I did all week (and if you know what I did yesterday, you'll know that's saying a LOT!) not to bust out laughing at that lady. Seriously, my son doesn't need ME to socialize HIM. But I answered with the most logical thing I could think of: "Well, we're here!"
Wow. So, on to the third point of this post...Today we received well over 100 teenage foster kids' Christmas presents. None of them consisted of just one or even two gifts. Each kid aged 10 to 21 filled out a form of their top three wishes--and for about 75% of the kids, all three items on their wishlist were bought. 24% had two items bought and also had clothes. 1% had only one item, and there were these ginormous crates of "leftover" presents that supplemented those kids' gifts.
This is not a bad thing, in and of itself. We are buying EJ at least three presents for Christmas. I venture to say that most kids will get more than three presents for Christmas. Also, I realize family size has a lot to do with this--more people (or less, actually) in the family invariably means either a lot more or a lot less than medium sized families. But I am a firm believer that NO kid should have over $400 spent on him for Christmas. That is SO ridiculous! (I realize there are exceptions--although I can't think of any reason why anyone should have to spend that much on one kid just for Christmas.) But on this wish list, there was a price limit--$150 per item. Times three items on the wish list.
One girl had her three items: DVD player, clothes, and blanket. So her "sponsor" brought this in: DVD player, twin bed comforter set (complete with bed skirt), and "I didn't want to buy clothes and have them not fit, plus you know teenage girls" so she her got a $100 gift card to the Galleria.
People, this was the typical reaction! About ten Kindle Fires, seven of those $100 TVs at Walmart from Black Friday, and more X-boxes, Wiis, and Play-Stations than I could count came in for these 10-21 year olds. I am NOT against electronics for kids. Okay, well, maybe I am a little bit. But as I saw the reactions of the other workers when a big ticket item like these came in, I realized: these people were fueling the entitlement mindset of the "underprivileged."
One girl received way more than three items, but I was actually happy for her for getting so much. She requested pots and pans, a set of towels, dishes, and a myriad of other setting-up-house items. That is what this whole thing should have been, especially for the older ones. Not TVs and Wiis. (My two cents, please don't take my child away from me, although if you do it in the next several days, he'll have a more lucrative Christmas than I'll ever be able to provide.)
Okay, one more thing and then I'll shut up. Someone brought in an X-box, several previously owned games, and a used DVD player. My first thought: Finally! Bravo to them!
Guess, just guess! what the workers did with those gifts? Just Guess!!! They laid those gifts aside, because they were used! They went to the back, dug around in the leftover gifts, and found replacement gifts for that kid.
Actually, one more thing. I just finished writing a children's novel about two foster kids who ran away in search of their birth mother. When I was helping a social worker gather the gifts for her kids, she mentioned that one of the girls on the list recently ran away, and being almost 20, she didn't think she would be back. I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to see how my pre-conceived notions of runaway foster kids lined up with reality. While I realize that I took a couple of legal liberties, sadly, my social worker's attitude in my book matched eerily with the one I met in real life.
Sigh again. I wish I could gather all the foster kids into my house and let each and every one of them know how much I truly care for them. I want to teach them (just like I'm teaching my own kid) how to grow up to be a responsible adult who knows he has to work for anything he gets because he is not owed anything. Maybe one of these days...until then, I'll keep teaching EJ and praying for the sorry state our nation has dragged itself down into.