Today I had my first "WIC Education Appointment"-a mandatory class for all women who recieve WIC benefits. I put that in parentheses because that's technically what it's called, but I find it rather laughable. If I were the one to choose the name of the class I would have called it Morons Anonymous. The "literature" (again, their words, not mine) they gave me to read along with the class was a green paper with a picture of a cartoon bear that read: Scrubby Bear says "Good hand washing means using soap and warm water, scrubbing for 20 seconds and rising well". Just in case I didn't learn that when I was 4.
Some other things I learned today:
- Some people don't realize that it's not okay to give your 4 month old an entire carrot to snack on.
- Some people think it's completely acceptable to take your infant outside in just a onesie when it's three degrees below zero.
- Some people don't know that an infant with a fever of 104 is cause for concern.
Please understand that I don't for one second think that I am any better than these women, but I do think I may be more capable of making better decisions. All four of the other mothers still had their pajamas on. I wish I was kidding. It was apparent that at least one woman had recently showered because her hair was still wet. And it's the MIDDLE OF WINTER. And she had to go OUTSIDE in the COLD to get there. Does anyone else see something wrong with this picture? Coincedentally enough, she was the same mother whose baby was dressed in a onesie-just a onesie-no pants, no jacket, no socks. Two of the women stepped outside at one point, leaving their babies alone inside, to take a smoke break. They're here to recieve assistance getting groceries for their families, but somehow they have no problem affording cigarettes. I was really struggling not to judge these women, but as I looked around I realized that I was the one being judged.
Apparently I don't LOOK like I need government assistance. Apparently for people to believe that I'm poor I have to wear my pajamas in public and dress my child like an orphan. As these other women openly stared at me I could feel them wondering why I was there. I kept fighting the urge to stand up and say "I'm sorry my husband and I both work full time and we STILL qualify for WIC! I'm sorry that buying warm clothing for my baby is more important to me than buying cigarettes! I'm sorry that I showered and got dressed before I came here this morning! And I'm sorry that I can't bake cookies on Taylor Lautner's perfectly sculpted chest!"
Okay, so I wasn't actually going to say that last part, but I do think it's rather tragic.
I'm grateful that programs like WIC exist. The benefits they have provided our family have really been a help. I mean, have you priced baby formula recently? Ounce for ounce, I'm pretty sure it's more valuable than gold. Although I think it's a great program, it makes me sad to think of how many people out there may be taking advantage of it, and what that's costing us as taxpaying citizens. And it makes me even more sad that there may actually be some people who, before today, didn't know they needed to wash their hands after they used the bathroom. Thank God for Scrubby Bear!