Takes a LOT to feed 4 extra mouths. Food, milk and diapers…food, milk and diapers and bottles…food, milk and diapers and bottles and money. Oh, and did I mention milk. And diapers. And MONEY. The baby drinks formula that cost almost 4 bucks a can. One can last for ONE day, maybe. So, she drinks at least 30 cans a month. Just in case there are some math rejects out there, that’s 120 dollars a month.
The first night the children came home with us, I went shopping. I got bottles, nipples, diapers, several changes of clothes for the baby (we left everything at the house with Fool), and food. They would be staying with me during the days (while other children were in school—I didn’t know then how normal it was for them to miss school), so I had to buy breakfast, lunch and snacks for them as well.
I spent over a 100 dollars.
The children eat. A lot. The police officer had told me the oldest girl had said that sometimes they get hungry during the days, but I never considered it was because they were capable of devouring the equivalent of a small country’s rations per day. Now I know.
After a week, Fool called the oldest girl (lets call her Pray-To-God-She-Won’t-Be-Hopeless). He told her that he had gone home to his mother, and that he was damn mad that he couldn’t get to work, and asked if she knew where the “God-damn van was because he was just gonna do something really, really bad if he didn’t find it.” Aren’t ya just trembling in your boots now? Yeah, I was too.
Pray-To-God-She-Won’t-Be-Hopeless handed me the phone.
“I ain’t been to work in days, and I want that damn van right now.”
“I thought you’d quit that job.” I took a gamble. The boys had told me this and I wasn’t quite sure it was true, but then too, I wasn’t dealing with the sharpest knife in the drawer either. In fact, if he had been a knife, he probably would have been equipped to cut cottage cheese. Maybe.
“Oh…I got another one two days ago, I told that damn Pray-To-God-She-Won’t-Be-Hopeless that already, shit. I need that damn van. Jerome gets to work; see that’s what I need to be doing right there. You know what I mean? I take care of my kids. Don’t no body take care of them kids but me, and I got to GET TO WORK TO DO IT.”
Talking to this man was like getting kicked in the head with a steal-bunny-slipper, if ya know what I mean. “Well, since you take care of them. The baby needs some more milk and diapers.”
“Oh, yeah, yeah. I take care of my kids. I gotta wait for the next bus. It comes in like 20 minutes and I’ll bring some, ‘cause I take care of them kids. Ya know? Them kids don’t want for nothing. What size diapers does she wear? Ok, ok, yeah, like a medium or something?” I told him no, a size 4. “Yeah, yeah, a 4, I remember. I get them all the time. I’ll be right there.”
Yeah, right. I didn’t hold my breath. I also didn’t care that if he actually managed to show up, he would have seen the van in the driveway.
We’re still waiting.
I went shopping again. I got milk and diapers and food, and more food.
Enough to feed a small country.