There were four consecutive birthdays where the only presents I got were hugs from my parents and a pencil. From the age of 11 to 14, we were “in between houses” and it was hard for me to understand why I couldn’t get birthday presents anymore. We had lived on the street before, but now that we were in a shelter, I felt as if everything was back to normal.
I was oblivious to the fact that there is now a class known as the “working poor,” and although you may have a roof over your head, it may not be yours. And even though you may not go four days without eating anymore, you still struggle to obtain the money for food every night. I had to hide the circumstances I was in and always make excuses instead of telling friends that I lived in a homeless shelter and I had to be “home” at a certain time or we would have to be outside for the night.
Among many of the things I’ve learned from hardship is that if you have, give. Having been homeless on several of my birthdays, I know how it feels to not have that sense of normalcy anymore, especially from a kid’s eyes.