The Benefits of a Hard Childhood

My childhood friend from Iowa called the other day. As we were comparing notes about our dysfunctional childhood households (hers with physical abuse, mine verbal), she mentioned the immigrant caravan at the border.

“What are going to do about that?” she said.

“Let in the women and children,” I said.  “I’m not sure about the others.”

“But what will they do for work?” she asked.

“Clean houses, flip burgers, pick produce, all the jobs nobody in this country wants,” I said.

Both of us used to do those jobs when we were teenagers and dirt poor. She babysat or got down on her knees and cleaned toilets. I wore a hairnet and sold burgers at McDonald’s, was a checker at a grocery store, worked in cornfields, and sold books door to door.

“My kids would never do that,” I said.

“Why not?”she asked.

“They had cushy childhoods. They didn’t have to scrape up money for clothes, social stuff, or college.”

My friend has no children.

“We did that,” she said.

“Hell yeah,” I said. “We wanted out of our situation. We got out.”

“My house is paid off,” my friend said.

“Ditto,” I said. “One of them, anyway.”

I went to college. She didn’t.  She’s single, I’m divorced.  I’m part-time retired. She’s still working.  We both handle our own finances. We’ve both been caregivers to aging relatives.

“I don’t know about letting them in,” she said.

I didn’t convince her about the immigrants. She’s from a long line of Republicans.

I lean the other way. I think anyone who fights that hard to save her children should be granted asylum.

I had a tough childhood, but I never walked 2000 miles to America to ask to get in.

Under circumstances out of my control, I was lucky enough to be born here.

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