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Food and Clothing
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In this kind of weather, it's best to dress like an onion, I always say. When I was teaching, it was one of my "life lessons" for my class. I quickly learned that many of my children either had no idea how to dress appropriately for changeable weather--or had only one set of clothes, winter and summer.

For the children who came bundled up as if for an Arctic winter and then sweltered in their sweaters (or conversely wore lightweight tees and jeans in the rain and shivered all day), I held a parenting class to encourage the parents to join me in the effort.

I made a joke of it, showing them how I dressed like an onion myself, and asked for their help in dressing their children appropriately.

For the children who had no other clothes, I went to the Salvation Army, bought children's clothes, washed them, and then had a corner in the coat closet that was "loaner" clothes. Most of them were taken, worn home, and never returned to the loaner pile. Fine with me, since that was the idea--giving clothes without the accompanying embarrassment and humiliation of being different, singled out, poor.

For the children who returned the clothes, I washed them, and said to the child to keep them in his/her desk. "Now that we know they fit you, it would be easier to keep them here," I said.

And for food, well that was a piece of cake, so to speak. I started a Lunch Club with my class. I'd bring my own lunch out to one of the outdoor tables, my tray piled with the two or three extra lunches I'd bought (and my brown bag stuff), and the children joined me, chattering and laughing like magpies. The ones for whom I knew this was their only meal were glad to get the extra nutrition, and for all of us it was like a party.

We talked about the weather, and the kickball game, and stuff you talk about with friends. All the time I was pushing food towards the ones who were hungry. And I set an example for eating in a civilized manner and enjoyed the opportunity to continue to model how you carry on a real conversation (a skill sadly not taught much).

I was a good teacher. I've often wondered what happened to some of those children. One year does not a childhood make.

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