My mom had a daycare in our home when I was growing up. She watched 10-12 children under the age of 2. I will probably write about that in another post. There were other people’s children at our house from 6.30 a.m. to about 6.30 p.m. As a teenager, I swore I’d never have kids. It’s pretty clear to me now that we didn’t quite even reach middle class, even though my parents did pay $250 a year each for all 4 of us to attend Catholic school.
I didn’t realize that we were scraping by when I was a kid. My dad worked 2 jobs: a day job Monday through Friday as some kind of office guy with a big company, and a night job, playing the piano at a fancy restaurant Fridays through Sundays. It was normal for the 4 of us kids to work to earn money to help out with our own expenses. I started a paper route when I was 9, and my older brother also had one. At that same age, I also babysat on evenings and weekends for some of the kids that my mom watched during the day.
We had real Christmases and birthdays back then. We got stuff that we’d been waiting on for months. We didn’t normally get things at any other time except for a few outfits and 2 pairs of shoes (good shoes and sneakers) in September for school. For anything else, we were pretty much on our own. We knew that if we wanted something that wasn’t essential, we had to earn the money. We didn’t get rides places, we walked or rode our bikes. We sucked it up and are probably the better for it.
One thing I remember clearly is Friday night dinners. During the week it was a meat and potatoes and vegetable combination, or some kind of casserole. But Fridays were always some kind of creative egg and/or flour and/or stale bread and/or cheese and/or syrup deal.
Some of my mom’s favorite Friday night dinners were grilled cheese or bread with cheese under the broiler; popovers (some kind of egg and milk combo baked in a pie pan that caused the mixture to sneak up the sides of the pan and curl toward the center; we ate it with syrup); French toast; French pancakes (a.k.a. crepes, but we didn’t use foreign words at our house) with syrup; and one of my all time favorite euphemisms: Egg Special.
Egg Special was basically the week’s leftover stale white bread ripped into chunks and placed in a casserole dish with some milk and the week’s leftover eggs poured on top. If there was leftover cheese, it got added too. Then it got baked. Pretty, er, special.
I’m not sure if those Friday night dinners were because we couldn’t afford meat and potatoes every night, because we had simply run out of other options and my mom didn’t have time to get to the store during the week, because my dad wasn’t home for dinner on Fridays, or if it had something to do with being Catholic and not eating meat on Fridays, …. Or maybe it had something to do with all of the above. My mother has always been an efficient and practical woman.