If I were a rich man?
After finishing Angela's Ashes by Frank McCourt a couple of weeks ago, I felt a huge sense of urgency to be a better parent, and still felt relief that I can feed not only toast and tea (in a real teacup) to A in the mornings, but an egg, pancakes, sausages, and most anything else that I can afford...right now, it's a bit more than the author of AA enjoyed from his parents as a child.
As a child of immigrants, things for me were not so easy growing up, either. My father owned his own business and was better off than my mother's family. When my mother divorced my dad, suddenly, we had far less than I was accustomed to. We moved in to an old white wooden tropical house in Florida, with cockroaches and possums as additional boarders, and I remember the house glassware being comprised primarily of McDonald's $.99 specials glasses that I could get with my weekend Happy Meal.
Even when the miracle of miracles happened, I got to go to school abroad for a couple of years, what I brought back was mostly in my head, not in the trunk that came on the trans-Atlantic ship 2 weeks afterwards.
That formula made me person and parent that I am.
Dr. Phil is on a book tour right now, and seems to be counseling a lot of families who give an awful lot of things to their kids. Those parents once were poor(ish) and perhaps to compensate, are creating a new generation of kids who feel entitled to owning things. Things like Kate Spade handbags, a brand new sportscar at age 16, etc. etc. Mommy! Mommy! You don't love me! [mommy immediately purchases whatever Thing she feels necessary to prove her love]. What are those parents doing about their kids' educations? How are those kids going to make a go of their lives, if necessary, without the help of their parents?
Paris Hilton was on Oprah explaining how her stint at McDonald's left her surprised that "They like, only make $40 a day...like, how can they have dinner with that money?" Ah, yes, Paris...
Material wealth does not necessarily lead to cerebral riches.
Poverty is particularly useful for keeping things in perspective. Something is stolen out of your car trunk while you were gone? At least it wasn't your health that was taken. Don't have pancakes for breakfast? At least you have toast, tea, and shoes to wear. Donnatella Versace calls on the phone? [yes, happened to me] Don't worry. She was once poor, too. [heh, heh, we even talked about how poor she once was] Kid didn't make it to Harvard? Thank goodness that he has a head on his shoulders, he can make a living, be a good parent, and do good things for his community.
Thank G-d for the value of poverty. I doubt we would see Tevye dancing as much once he had his riches.