Story 1: You should apply for WIC!
Several months ago, when we first moved into this house, I responded to a request on FreeCycle for laundry-detergent ingredients. I had bought some the year before, fully intending to make my own laundry detergent. For one reason or another, I never got around to using it, so I sent my Fels Naptha soap to be with someone who would appreciate it. When the lady arrived to get the soap, we struck up a conversation about homeschooling. As it turned out, she was a homeschooling mom for a few years, but she was going back to work as a lactation consultant at the local WIC office. I’m a big fan of extended breastfeeding, and was interested in hearing about her job, so we talked about breastfeeding for a moment, also.
Since we don’t live in the nicest house in the world, my new friend must have assumed we were poor, and urged me to apply for WIC. Housing prices are high around here. We live in a tourist-trap/college-town/retirement-community, so you can imagine what property prices are like. Unlike most people, we live within our means, so there was a bit of a trade-off in looks when we moved to a bigger home earlier this year. It doesn’t look like much, but we pay for it on our own, and it is big enough and comfortable enough to suit our family.
I politely told the woman that we make too much money to be eligible for WIC. I haven’t checked, but I’m reasonably sure that’s true. Even if we didn’t make too much money to qualify for assistance, I would not take my children to the government for food.
She, of course, insisted that I should apply and let WIC give me free beans, milk, and eggs. Perhaps it was the chicken nuggets, peas, and macaroni and cheese lunch I had out on the table that made her think I needed some nutritional help. I dunno. Seems like a perfectly fine meal to me. The kids will eat it, and there’s a vegetable. That’s my idea of a good-enough lunch.
Anyway, after a few more polite refusals, but without ever actually expressing my thoughts on the matter, we changed the subject, said our godspeeds, and went on with our respective days. I even made Facebook friends with her. Truly a well-meaning and kind-hearted girl, as I’ve come to find out, and she would be mortified to think that she had insulted me (which she didn’t, really). I have no doubt that she meant nothing but good, which is why I didn’t say anything to begin with. I hope she doesn’t read this, but if she does, I hope she’ll know I don’t really take it personally!
Story 2: You can get grants for that!
We’re renting until we have a substantial downpayment saved for our own home. One thing I love about renting is that repairs are someone else’s problem. When we moved in here, I made a few repair requests. One of the men who came to replace a cracked window pane asked if my oldest was in school yet. I told him we homeschool, and his immediate response was to tell me that he was pretty sure the government would subsidize my endeavor and even give my kids computer classes.
Now, I know for a fact that the state won’t help me pay for homeschooling my kids. In fact, they insist that I continue to help pay for the education of other people’s children, even while I bear the full financial burden of educating my own. But that’s neither here nor there right now. I said something like “Oh, really? Neat.” When I’m insulted, I tend to just say nothing and change the subject. I don’t believe my feelings are so important that they need to be aired every time someone says something I dislike. Few people ever really mean to be insulting. They just don’t see it my way.
I thanked him for fixing the window, and he went on his merry way.
Story 3: Fast Food Charity
In case it hasn’t quite sunk in yet, let me reiterate that we are very frugal people. We try not to waste money. While we do eat out occasionally, we don’t waste money on sodas or toys. This results in some extremely confused cashiers. Apparently, it is absolutely un-freaking-heard of to take a child into McDonald’s without buying him a cheap plastic toy and sugary drink for three times the cost of production.
Not once, or even twice, but 3 separate times my poor, deprived, under-privileged children (who, btw, have more clothes and toys now than I had my whole childhood) have been given toys by fast food workers who just felt so sorry for them that they were willing to risk their minimum wage jobs to bestow stolen treasures on my filthy little ragamuffins.
Those toys were all accepted in dumbfounded silence (because I am absolutely spineless and did not say, as I should have, “May I speak to your manager, please?”), and have all been broken or lost since. I’d be glad I didn’t pay for these wasteful trinkets, but in a way I did. And so did the workers. And so did you, if you eat at McDonald’s, which I’m told respectable people don’t ever admit to doing anymore. Oh, well. Respectability is highly overrated.
Can you guess where your libertarian friend is heading with this? Check in soon for Part 2: The Rant