Oh, your kids do that too?
Shanicka and Danzel say that Resilient Kidz class was the first time they had really talked to other parents.
“We’re pretty much alone,” says Shanicka. Danzel’s family is in Mississippi, while hers is just over on San Antonio’s East Side, but “everyone is grinding; everyone is busy,” and they do not have many supportive relationships.
When they met fellow parents through Resilient Kidz, “there was a lot of, ‘Oh, your kids do that too?’” says Danzel. “It’s just good to know other parents go through the same stuff you do.”
I ask whether they’ve stayed in touch with the parents they met in the class.
“We tried,” says Shanicka. “It’s hard when our phones are always different. Our numbers are always changing. You know?”
I admit that, no, I do not know: “Why does your phone number change?”
Shanicka and Danzel tell me about how communication basics like phone and internet work in their lives. The cell phone providers don’t lock them into contracts (like they tend to do for you and me) but offer one-month plans. You pay, your phone stays on. You miss a payment, and your phone turns off. When you can afford to pay again, they give you a new phone number.
Think for a minute about all that depends on your phone number, and you can imagine the stress this creates.
“I’ve been trying to look for a job,” says Shanicka. Potential employers haven’t been calling, and “I’m like, did they get the old number?” Or, “a lot of places, they verify who you are with your phone number. So when they ask me, I [make up numbers]—uh, 6-6-7-7….” She laughs.
“Even in stores when they ask for your number“ to set you up for discounts, Danzel says, “our number is never the same. So we never get to take advantage of those offers.”
“Before we found out I was pregnant,” says Shanicka, “my number had been off for about four months. I would miss phone calls from the school. They just said recently that [my son] has severe sleep apnea, and they had called me to schedule appointments for the referrals. I missed those. I was like, ‘Oh god, now I’m pregnant, I can’t miss those appointments, too.’ So I had to use the little amount of money I had to go cut my phone on, but I don’t know if it’s going to be on long.”
Danzel has had a phone in the past. “But right now,” he says, “I think it’s more important for her to have one.”
They share about all kinds of things: having to take two buses to get to church on Sundays; how the amounts they get for food stamps and housing assistance fluctuate automatically when they earn a bit more money one month; the challenge of seeing a doctor; the challenge of putting protein on the dining table—“We eat a lot of sides,” says Shanicka.