Column: Childhood opportunity cost does not mean opportunities lost – Web Exclusive

Julia Halpin | Staff Writer

18213 Robson Street Detroit, Michigan.

My grandma’s house, centered in “the bad part” of downtown Detroit. Outside, any onlooker can notice the pricy security door and the beat-up brick. No grandma should be living there, right?

Inside is different.

My grandma had 12 children, my mom being one of the bunch, and raised them all in that house. Raising 12 kids is something most people only hear about in movies (“Cheaper by the Dozen” anyone?), but not for my grandma; that was her reality. One bathroom, three bedrooms, the tiniest kitchen you’ve ever seen and a basement.

And I’m jealous.

I’ve moved from suburb to suburb all my life, never really settling in or having a place to call my “hometown.” But that house is rich with the aspect of childhood I never had. That house has character, memories, wear-and-tear that makes it the perfect place to be raised, even if you were sharing a bedroom with six of your sisters like my mom was. Mason, Ohio is the perfect example of what my mom never experienced as a child, and I would give up my house off Heartwood Lane for her box off of 7 Mile any day. Trick-or-treating with ten other siblings, passing down catholic school uniforms year after year, watching your brothers run their paper route—that’s a childhood. Don’t get me wrong, I love my parents, my siblings, and had a ball growing up, but there’s something that my sheltered life never revealed to me that my mom had a dose of everyday.


In her life, there was no brand new 200 dollar prom dress every year, no extra lunch money in your account every month, no new car when your 16 birthday rolled around. I, and most teenagers, nearly expect those things from our parents. I mean, that’s what we’re used to, right?

Our generation shouldn’t have the title of the spoiled brats, slackers or couch potatoes. If I’ve learned anything from the countless stories my mom has told that start with, “When I was a kid…” it’s that nothing in life is ever handed to you, sorry kiddos.

And we shouldn’t be discouraged by that. My grandma lived the life she wanted, being the mother, hard worker, and wife that she always hoped she would be. My mom tells every single one of her childhood tales with a smile on her face, because she knows she came from “the bad part” of downtown Detroit, and somehow ended up in cushioned suburbia, even without the prom dress, lunch money, or new car.

18213 Robson Street Detroit, Michigan, now that’s reality.