Stepfamily Issues

Personal stories about stepfamilies, childhood and general family issues.

April 07, 2008

a daughter repays her mom

When Laurel's mother lost her job and couldn't pay school fees, Laurel learned the cruel consequences of poverty brought about by divorce and broken homes and she's now repaying her mom for all the sacrifices made on her behalf.

"Rather than waiving the fees until my mom got back on her feet, my school principal chose to harass me and make my life miserable at school."

"I was 14 at the time and the principal called me into his office to ask me why my mom hadn't paid the fees," says Laurel. "I was in class at the time and everyone stared at me when he came into the classroom and dragged me off."

"I explained to him that my mom had lost her job," says Laurel, "and he sat there shuffling papers and talking about school expenses and people who expect society to take care of them while I stood there like I was a naughty girl."

"It was a state school - not some fancy private place," explains Laurel, "and when I told my mom that the principal had called me into his office she was very upset."

"Apparently, the fees levied by the school were not payable by law," adds Laurel. "They were just arbitrarily set by the school to cover incidental expenses."

"Mom's taxes contributed towards the salary of the principal and the teachers," laughs Laurel, "and there was this mean little guy paid out of the public purse quibbling about late payment of fees my mother never had to pay in the first place!"

"My mom telephoned the principal the next day and said that she would pay the fees as soon as she had found a job," says Laurel, "and she also requested that the school did not involve me in the matter again."

"My mom's a very shy and private person so it must have been very hard for her to have made that call," says Laurel, "and I felt a bit guilty for adding to her troubles."

"I chose not to tell her what happened at school after that," sighs Laurel. "She was having a bad time trying to find work and pay the rent and I didn't want to make her any more miserable than she was."

"The principal must have spoken about my mom to all of the teachers," explains Laurel. "I could tell from the different way they were treating me that they knew I was now a poor kid whose mom couldn't pay school fees as well as being a kid from a broken home."

"I wasn't the only kid from a broken home at school," says Laurel, "so that didn't bother them as much as being a poor did. It was okay to be from a broken home, but God forbid that your mom was too poor to pay the lousy school fees."

"They would stand in a huddle, talking in whispers, and stare rudely at me," sighs Laurel. "And in class they wouldn't look at me at all. It was as if I had ceased to exist because my mom hadn't paid school fees."

"These are teachers I am talking about - not kids," says Laurel. "The other kids didn't treat me any differently. It was just the principal and the teachers - adults who are supposed to set examples and be good role models for their students."

"In the six months that my mom was out of work and didn't pay school fees I was denied participation in all school excursions and the meanest denial of all was their refusal to give me a copy of the annual school magazine with my contributions in it."

"The school administrator told me that only students with paid-up school fees were entitled to receive a copy," sighs Laurel. "Can you believe that?"

"Even when mom had found a new job and paid the school fees," says Laurel, "the teachers still treated me badly."

"I put up with one more year at that school and then decided to leave and get a job."

"That whole experience taught me more about life than the so-called 'education' I was getting at school."

"If I ever have kids and can't afford the school fees, I would rather starve or get into debt than cause them the humiliation of being singled out as poor kids."

"Poverty is a crime in our society and there's no such thing as charity," says Laurel, "but now that I'm working I'm making sure that mom has a better life."

"I guess I won't be leaving home and starting my own family until mom is set up for life because she deserves it," says Laurel. "It wasn't her fault that my dad run off with another lady and left her in poverty to bring me up all alone."

This story first appeared as broken home poverty

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