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Sharing is Caring and Cheaper too!

May 13th, 2014 at 08:33 pm

I briefly described living in a foster home where no one owned anything. The first night I was there, they took off my shoes, bathed me, and put me in a cute purple night gown. I remember being amazed that they had a night gown just my size already without having to go to the store. I was tucked in next to a passel of children in a big queen size bed and passed out.

When I awoke there were a lot of children running around. There were teenagers, big kids, and babies. There was even a little girl my age and size. We will call her Angie. The mother and father handled the finances and food. The bigger kids handled everything else. The house was filled until bursting at the seams with people and never had a dull moment.

Angie brought me to "the closet" that morning. She explained everyone kept their clothing here. If it fit, I could wear it. If it was broken we should tell mamma or papa. If it needed washed, we put it in the laundry basket near the washer. I was amazed, I could pick any outfit I wanted and wear it if it fit me. There was a catch though, I had to let everyone wear my clothes I came with too. This was hard to accept at first.

I remember the first day someone wore my shoes. It was one of the bigger boys and I started to cry. He asked why I was crying and I said he was wearing my shoes. He offered to take them off, but then the mamma came over and talked to me. She said I was a good girl to let my older brother wear my shoes. That I already had a nice pair of girly shoes on and that it would be selfish to not allow him to wear my shoes when his shoes were broken.

I said but they are a girl's shoes. My bigger brother said it's fine, he likes them. Then I asked if they really fit them. He said yes and they were the nicest pair he ever wore. I stopped crying. I said I was glad he had a nice pair of shoes to wear and I wouldn't cry any more as long as he took care of them.

Later at dinner with mamma and papa after prayers, they spoke with us. They explained that by sharing we show love. They said they knew we made big sacrifices to be together, but a family is love and if we loved one another those sacrifices should not be hard. Then they went around the table and everyone shared what they sacrificed for the family. Papa worked all day to feed us and pay the bills. Mamma worked hard washing clothes and cooking. The eldest sister mended the clothing and helped with the baby. The second eldest sister helped with the cooking and did dishes. Our older brother helped papa with a man's car and brought money into the house. The boy I let wear my shoes let his older brother borrow his bike so he could help papa with the car. Angie let me borrow the purple night gown so that I could have clothing. I asked her really and she smiled and got shy. Then mamma and papa skipped me and said the baby (age 3) picked up the toys. Finally they laid their eyes on me and said, "Even the newest member of our family helped by lending her shoes". It made a lasting impression. I wanted to cry for joy because I belonged somewhere and I was good enough to be someone's child.

Then they went on to explain that though papa works hard everyday, we would not have enough money for everyone to live here if everyone had to have their own clothing, shoes, bed, and everything else. That it was our duty, if we wanted to be a family, to share so we can stay together. I watched as the older boys nodded solemnly. This was a reminder to them and for me it was like a new religion.

This was fine for me, but I had a hard time with the other aspect of sharing later on. When our neighbors came over with a child that had no shoes or sandals, mamma would give one of our pair. When I protested she would tell me that they are our brothers and sisters in God and we should care for them. This concept did not sit well with me. I saw time and again as people came to mamma and papa for things and later when I played with them, they had newer nicer things. When I asked where the shoes were that mamma gave, they got mad and threw "The old nasty things" at me.

I explained to mamma what happened and she seemed upset. I caused a problem by pointing out that they had very nice things, but did not share with us. It was rude, but when I heard mamma and papa discussing it he said I was right to at least point it out. That it must go both ways or they are not acting as brothers and sisters in God.

My actions had divided the family and instead of blaming the poor mannered neighbors, I got the blame from the kids. Then when the kids complained they did not want me because I caused too much trouble the parents had a vote. The vote was to kick me out of the family. Most of the older children voted me out, but papa, Angie, and the brother I lent my shoes to, wanted me to stay. Not even mamma wanted me to stay. There was a big discussion since papa wanted me to stay, but ultimately it was decided I would leave. I cried. I took only what I wore and waited for the social worker to come.

When she came that night, I sat very dejected. She asked where my things were and mamma informed her I owned nothing. The social worker protested that she brought several outfits for me. Mamma waved it away and said they were all ruined. The social worker noted that I had sneakers on when I came a couple weeks ago, but now I had little sandals. Mamma said the sandals fit better. The social worker didn't like her answers because the sandals were cheaper, but took me anyway. In the car the social worker questioned me continuously. She seemed very angry. We went to a store and she bought me five or six outfits from her own pocket. Then we went back to the office. I sat in a chair while the social worker and her boss argued. It was late at night and they had to open the office and turn the lights on, but since only a few lights were on it was still creepy and dark. I was scared while I sat.

I stayed the night at the office and the social worker stayed with me. In the morning she drove me to a new foster home with my new clothes. There were no other children there. It was an elderly couple. She told them it was only for a few days until she could find a proper placement. They said how many days and she said at most a week. I asked if I could sleep and they showed me to my new bed and room. It was beautiful and I could sleep without anyone else in the bed.

While the foster home that had a lot of people and shared everything was wonderful...and would have remained wonderful. It also had problems. I wish they would have given me a better chance, but it turned out the way it did.

Later, in my own life, I have made my children hand down things to one another when it no longer fit. If two of my girls were the same size at the same time, they also shared. However, they always remembered who had the shirt first. "Oh well Nilla, is wearing my shirt, but it doesn't matter because I wore her dress." They would laugh and swap clothes constantly when they were the same size. My youngest two do this now, but they still retain an idea of ownership by saying. "Bubby is using my shoes" even if Bubby has been using the shoes for a year. I think it allows a child a sense of control over their life to say it is their shoes, but by making them share it builds a sense of family. After a while, sharing becomes second nature and the petty squabbles about who owns what are avoided for the most part. Also, mom and dad luck out, because now each child only needs half as many clothes to get by.

There are some things in our family that everyone collectively owns, "the wind up radio", "the computer" (which is a little mini laptop my husband duct taped together), "the bike", "the dog", "the goats", "the legos", "the books" but school books are individualized, "hair ties" belong to every girl, "the fish", "the black belt" is everyone's because it fits most of the people in the house and it rarely is needed, "the internet", "the phone", and even "the car" assuming they have a license.

8 Responses to “Sharing is Caring and Cheaper too!”

  1. Miz Pat Says:

    I can't believe they sent you away. I'm sitting here crying. That is just too much for a child.

    God bless you!

  2. Looking Forward Says:

    Your story was very engrossing. Thank you for sharing.
    What a hard, sad thing for you to go through. Unfortunatly,I know there is rarely happy foster stories.. Frown It makes me glad that you took away a good lesson of sharing and not total bitterness.

  3. Wife of the Deacon Says:


    I have two girls 12.5 months apart and when I shop it is always "for the girls". They have been able to swap dresses for Homecoming/Father Daughter Dance/Turnabout. The aren't the same shoe size, but it seems that what they have usually works. I can't imagine having kids who are particular about who owns what. We're pretty much a commune here and everyone shares accordingly.

  4. Wife of the Deacon Says:


    And I did find it painful to read your story; but applaud your own personal resilience that you have carried with you from these experiences. You're instilling good values and virtues in your children. Generosity is an important fruit of the Spirit that is sometimes overlooked. God bless you and yours!

  5. CB in the City Says:

    Well, I'm always the cynic, but I think your foster family was a little bit more in love with their philosophy than with their foster children.

  6. FrugalTexan75 Says:

    Wow. I'm sorry you went through that, but am glad you took away something positive.

  7. aukxsona Says:

    Foster homes more likely than not lead to rejection. I went through 12 foster homes in a year. You just sort of accept that it will be a temporary thing. Then you don't care about school or making friends and no one understands why. Why try, you'll be gone in two weeks. It broke my heart so many times, that by 12 I didn't feel like I had a heart left. I started looking at it as a learning experience and less like a chance to find a family. I looked at it as, I'm learning how many different kinds of families there are...and unfortunately I didn't seem to fit in any of them. I was never adopted, I ran away at 16 and got married shortly after.

  8. CB in the City Says:

    Well, I, too, am very sorry you had to go through that as a child. You should consider writing your memoirs; you're a good writer and what you've lived through is pretty amazing.

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