Amazing Kids! Magazine

Redefined

By Sarina Patel, Contributing Writer

 

Cut back on this. Use this discount on that. I’m practically a Walmart motto! “Save money, live better.” © My whole life has been arranged by Groupon cards, cheap gift certificates, and Publix coupons.  Why? Shortage of money.

Money. Huzzah! I hate how the entire “Unemployed Legion” gets the short end of the stick. While my dad, Xavier Foley, goes to work (and by going to work, I mean he waits for 5 hours in the unemployment line). My mom is surviving off of the money saved from the days when she actually used to work hard like the rest of us.

Every day  I grit my teeth as I:  Get up early. Make breakfast and lunch (Dad supplies dinner). Clean the house. Get my daily work done. Beg my blunt older sister, the royalty of the house, Princess Nigeria, who says she’s ‘for your information, you will address me as Ria—and nothing else, you short dependent troll,’ (yes, I know—she’s a charming old sweetheart, that sister of mine) to drive me to the mall, or the store, or wherever else I need to go. Ask Mom if I can borrow $40 to go shopping for groceries. Schedule Mom’s doctor appointments for her. Massage Mom’s shoulders. Monitor and take care of my adopted little sister, Gretna Kolchevisky. Make sure everyone is properly fed and taken care of. Smile exhausted lot and assure my dad that I did nothing much today. Sure, I’m bitter. But I don’t have the luxury of being sweet like most kids my age.

“Raina!” Mom will call, every now and then. “Raina Ruby Foley! You know we’re in this together!” Yeah. Right. Sure.

If Dad found out that I was going through this all because he couldn’t find one single job…well, God forbid he would find out. He’d  boot Mom out of the house. And as high-maintenance, OCD, and fussy this female relative of mine is…she’s my MOTHER. Admittedly, even as self-sufficient as I am, I do need her. It took a LOT out of me in order to admit that.

Last Monday, though…I snapped. After Mom complained yet again about the bills, I questioned her why Dad hadn’t found a job yet. And then I REALLY told her.

Did you realize I’ve been reading the doctor’s reports? You’re complacently resting in bed even after you’re healed. Hoping I wouldn’t figure it out, right? And what exactly are you doing on that laptop all day, sneaking around and telling me it was nothing? Oh please—don’t even begin to tell me that it was nothing. I’ve been managing this house AND singlehandedly taking care of you…please don’t give me that answer…although yes, that is no way to talk to you, it’s very appropriate after watching you sit and dawdle on Google Chrome for hours on end, leaving me to do the work around here!…mm-hmm, OK, well have you even seen the electricity bills, Mother?!

In silent response, with tears unshed lightly misting her eyes, she swiveled the laptop towards me. There was a tab on there displaying a video of my mother surrounded by a group of ragged-looking children, all of them baring yellow grins.

“…W-What?” Was the only answer that could stumble out of my mouth. I was puzzled.

<><><><><><><><><><><><><><><>

Resham. That’s the simple but sweet name the villagers gave my mother, a discreet sign that they were welcoming her into the village.

Mom never told me that she had once took a trip to Pakistan to help a cooperative group of students progress in their licensed doctrinal research on aiding sick mountain climbers. She brought advanced technology with her—HP and Acer computers, with easy features, a button that switches the text on screen to Arabic, wifi and Google Chrome. But for these unfortunate kids, recording filtered bottled Aquafina water was a treat. To most of them, getting clean water and all this equipment was as exciting as telling me that I could go see a rendition of Frozen on Broadway.

Mom wanted to thank them for allowing her to stay in their humble homes and take pictures in a society where usually, foreigners with weird-looking flashy objects posed a potential threat. She wanted to show every single one of her diligent students her appreciation – students who were more focused on education than playing sports than many students she’d taught in the USA were, by making a slideshow of the pictures they’d taken.

I felt ashamed. Here I was, worrying about my life, which seemed so rich compared to the lives of those unfortunate villagers. Here I was, complaining to Mom that she’d done nothing, not for me, not for my sisters, not for the family…when she’d done so much more. When she’d passed the torch of knowledge onto a new branch of kids.

To them, there was no question of being thankful. They had received a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, a privilege nobody else could offer them.

You know, I’d never thought of knowledge as a present, and from that day forth the word took on an entirely new meaning. I guess at some point in our lives as humanoid life-forms, we have to sit down and ask ourselves: ‘Yesterday, what did this word mean to you? Today, what does this word mean to you? Tomorrow, what do you think this word will mean to you?’ We’re constantly correcting and redefining these words.

The question is: What did ‘privilege’ mean to me yesterday? It meant that Dad would finally have enough money to take us someplace foreign and exotic, like India or France. That Princess Ria would have enough money to go to a great college, and that I could take regular trips to destinations all around the world, and that we’d all be content— preferably content in a large, grand mansion on a hillside in sunny Southern California.

What does ‘privilege’ mean to me today? It means that I have rights as a kid in the USA that protect me, that I have enough money and family members around to ensure that I’m alive and in a rather big house, that I am able to access a wealth of knowledge that’s at my fingertips without ever being asked why I need to know so much information. It means that I can go to college, support myself, and be a free individual who does well in life. Come to think of it, I’m VERY privileged. Even though I may not be the richest person alive, and I may not be able to visit Southern California, India, and France all in the same year, I don’t think I need a mansion to satisfy me anymore. I think that, sure, I can always strive for a bit more than I have. I’m happy where I am. Even though there are places I’d always rather be, like Universal Studios, I’m happy where I am.