The 5-year-old walked home a few blocks in the snow of a Chicago winter. Home was a cramped apartment where he lived with his parents and three brothers. When he got to the door, he saw on it a sheet of paper affixed with a thumbtack. Although he was a good reader, he had never seen the word “notice,” but he did recognize the number “three” and the word “day” that appeared just before the mystery word.
The boy’s clothes were hand-me-downs from his two oldest brothers. He did not mind because, like a lot of his friends, he thought that wearing his big brother’s clothes was cool. Dinner that night was fried baloney and mashed potatoes, not because that was what everyone was asking for, but because it was all his mother could afford.
His mother did what she could given the limited income she had. She tried to work as little as possible so that she could spend time with her children, but, more and more, she was finding herself having to fill in the gap between her husband’s paycheck and their expenses. So, she worked weekends, when her husband could watch the kids. That schedule, however, meant less time as a complete family when it would have mattered most.