Why do poor people drag their kids grocery shopping at midnight? originally appeared on Quora – the place to gain and share knowledge, empowering people to learn from others and better understand the world.
Answer by Jo Eberhardt, mother of two:
It was the 23rd of December 2012. My family–myself, my then-husband, and our two children were living paycheck to paycheck. No, worse than that; we were living paycheck to almost-paycheck. Anyone who has ever struggled will know how hard those last few days before payday can be.
So there we were, the 23rd of December, and we hadn’t managed to afford a single Christmas present for our kids. The following day, we were due to drive to my parents’ house some 8 hours away. But it was okay. Because of the Christmas public holiday, our pay was going in early. It would be available in our bank account between 1 and 2 am.
At midnight, I left my husband at home with the sleeping children and went to the shops, which were open all night for Christmas trading. There, I managed to buy a few bits and pieces for my boys and little gifts for the rest of my family. We didn’t have a tree or anything, but I knew there would be one at Mum and Dad’s place. Besides, it was more important to spend our only $50 on our kids than on decorations.
I got home around 3am, wrapped the presents, packed the car, and fell into bed about 5. My son woke me up at 7, and we had a family breakfast before leaving for Nana and Grandad’s house.
All through the drive, all I could think about was this other family I’d seen shopping.
They were a mother and five kids. The youngest was asleep in a trolley–it was after 1am after all–and the other four were running amuck. The second-youngest would have been 4, and the eldest, 12. The mother spent her whole time yelling at them, telling them to stay with her, and threatening to return everything and cancel Christmas.
Let me tell you, the judgement must have been fairly rolling off me.
“What does she expect?” I said to my husband in disdain. “Those children…