Character Building And Hunger Pains

A peanut butter and jelly sandwichMother had very poor problem solving abilities. She took most problems as a personal affront. Her usual way of dealing with a problem was to wonder:

Why me?

as though she were the victim and then say or yell:

How do I know what to do? What do you expect me to do?

My sister Abby and I knew this was peculiar behavior and seemed to never work out. The problem was still there and Mother was in the same predicament.

One time when Abby was in college and I still lived at Mother’s habitat, we had no money and nothing to eat. The night before Mother had asked her good friend Marge for some navy beans so we could have a meal. So it was out of the question to ask Marge again since she had five children of her own to feed.

I noticed some rug dye on the counter that Mother had purchased several years before when she thought she might get around to dyeing the carpet. I thought that maybe, if we were lucky, we could return the dye to the hardware store and get the needed cash so we could get something to eat.

Away we went to the store. Mother refused to go in so I bit the bullet and swallowed my pride in the hopes that they would accept my story. I told the salesman that we were not going to be using the dye since we were moving and would appreciate a cash refund. He could not have been nicer and gladly gave me the twenty-one dollars.

I was elated and ran out to the car with the cash in hand. Mother seemed puzzled that I had figured out how to handle this and couldn’t wait to spend the money. She was ready to go out to eat and live it up. I refused, knowing that our new-found wealth would last longer if we bought groceries and had a sandwich at home.

I was proud and ashamed all at the same time. How had Mother allowed us to get in such a mess and why was I the person figuring it out?

I purchased the necessities like bread, lunch meat, eggs and peanut butter. I knew that we would make it to the end of the month and would not have to go bed to hungry.

Lesson: Experiences like this may build character. However, I would prefer not to build character while experiencing hunger pains.

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