To the Parents of the Little Girl My Son Met on the Campground Playground… #70DayRoadTrip

Please teach your child that material things are not the way to judge a person and that making negative comments about what someone else does or does not have is not a nice thing to do. My son was trying hard to get your daughters’ attention along with the attention of the other little girls who were with her. They are about the same age as my son, and he is very friendly. He loves to make friends wherever we go.

So, when he heard your daughter mention her pop-up camper, he piped in that we had one too. Your daughter’s response was to say “I know, I saw it and it’s really small.” What is a little boy to say to that? Being the kind of person he is, a person who sees only good in people, he bounced back with “I know, it’s all my mom could afford. It was $200.” Your daughter’s response was to laugh and turn away. Now, it was not $200, it was $2,200 and then nearly another $1,000 for the electric breaks and title transfer, but he’s right, it’s all I can afford. See, the comment your daughter made in an effort to get rid of my son didn’t cut him to the bone, but it did me. Thoughts of “Am I not providing enough for my boys” are stilling swishing through my mind this morning as I write this post.

I am basically a single mom. I have no husband to come along on these trips and help me with the boys, no man who brings home the bacon. No, I do that from the road on trips like this 70 day adventure I have decided to take my boys on. Don’t worry, your daughter is not the first we have encountered to make a comment like that on this trip. Sadly, it has been said before. It makes me wonder though, why do children feel the need to judge others on what they have? Why is it acceptable to make a condescending remark about what they have?

I’m doing the best I can, I spent days and countless hours fixing the inside of this tiny pop-up camper up (which is all my van could safely pull) so that it would not be an embarrassment to my boys, but a bright and cheerful place where we could make memories all summer long. I was proud of it, but now, I’m not feeling so strongly about that pride. I am happy with what I have, because I know how hard I worked to get it. The point is, these children have to be learning this judgment by materialistic possessions from somewhere, and I suspect it must be from home. Me, I would be happy to travel the world in my little pop-up camper and never think twice, I don’t need a lot,  but when it comes to feeling like I am not providing enough for my boys, those words cut deep.

Anyway, you will likely never read this, but if by some chance you do, please think about teaching your daughter that everyone does what they can and purchases what they can afford, and that’s not something to snark at. If you have something better than someone else, that is fantastic and something you can be proud of, but gives you no right to put down what others have.


A Mom Who’s Trying Her Best


  1. Kathleen, first of all the pop up looks amazing!! you did a great job transforming it into a chic travel machine that it is. You bought it at a great price. Why? Because it is giving your children a priceless memory! I envy you! You are creating amazing memories that children will remember for their entire life. Congrats on your journey & Do not let the words of one child affect your mood. You are fearless!! I love watching your journey on Facebook and on your blog. We need more Kathleens and less "Keeping up with the Joneses".

  2. I am so sorry that this has shaken your belief that you are doing everything you can for your children. Please don't let it. When my oldest son was little, he use to say "we don't have a lot of money, but we're rich in love and that's all that matters." And that is so true. Make those happy memories with your children and hold your head high, they will remember that over the material things. Today is my oldest son's birthday, he would have been 29. Injuries from the war in Iraq took him on Jan 1, 2011 and I cherish all of the wonderful memories that we made as a family, on very little money. 😀

  3. Maria- You are so sweet. Thank-you so much for the confidence boost. I know I am doing the best I can for the boys and that is enough for me, I just worry that if they hear words like that too often they might begin to think they should have these things too. They are great boys though, and I just tried to use it as a teaching moment about what we don't say to other children.

    Sue – First, I am so sorry for your loss, and thank-you to your son for his amazing sacrifice for our country. I honestly do these trips so that I can make as many memories with the boys as I can before they grow up and leave me behind. Thank-you for the reminder that it is the memories that matter the most!

  4. Kathleen, the size of the camper means squat. You are doing far more for those boys than 95% of parents out there. Don't you see that they watched you work hard readying that camper for them. They learned far more life skills and character lessons from that, than someone plopping down cash for something new. I am in awe of all you are doing and No, I am not just blowing smoke up your backside when I say that.

  5. I love what you did with the camper. I showed my son the pictures you posted on facebook this morning and he thought it was really cool.I think it's awesome that you're providing your sons with all these experiences. They're going to look back on this summer and love that little camper! You're an awesome mom and don't let the judging aholes out there ruin your day.

  6. Oh, my! I don't usually comment, but this post made me laugh. Many children use material possessions to overcompensate for a lack of love and attention at home–and yes, you're right, they learn it somewhere. Sounds like this little girl is doing just that. We have a small camper, too, but we hope to spend very little time actually in the camper. Just because we have a small pop up doesn't mean we couldn't afford a bigger one. It just means we CHOSE not to. We try to use our budget for experiences rather than possessions. It looks like you are doing the same thing. You never know what is going on inside someone's head, and chances are, that little girl is really just jealous on the inside. Consider yourselves the fortunate ones! 😀

  7. That's very sad for that little girl. I just hopped over and took a look at your camper and I LOVE it! You did an AWESOME job! Heck, we don't even have a camper.

  8. Don't you doubt yourself at all, Kathleen…. I am in awe of the things you do alone with your boys. How lucky your sons are to have such a hands-on, loving mom who takes them on these amazing adventures. You are making such wonderful memories for them. When I was young, we were poor. I mean really poor, but I didn't even realize it until I got a bit older. But I think back on my childhood with such fond memories, because of my Mom. And your sons will, too.

  9. I'm a pre-k teacher and am exposed to a lot of interesting conversations daily between the 40 kiddos in my class. It still blows me away to hear things like this out in public. Children look so far beyond the material things and it's sweet your son tried to use the camper to relate to new friends. Obviously that didn't work in his favor but hopefully didn't crush his confidence in trying to make new friends. You're doing a great job teaching your child to be grateful for his hard working momma!

  10. I'm sickened by how hurtful that was and I KNOW how hard you work for what you have. It seriously breaks my heart knowing that you're hurting over this. It was so uncalled for and it makes me sad! He was just trying to be friendly and he got slammed. Grrrrrr

  11. It's a shame that things like are said. I hope that I am teaching my children how to be respectful of others. Your camper is wonderful!!

  12. Thanks so much for the kind words ladies, they really helped brighten my day.

    Heather – Jase definitely did not let the words crush his confidence, I am not sure anything could lol. He was still wanting to go play with them when I said it was time to leave. He didn't take the words personally, it was just me they hurt.

  13. Whoa! This mama of 4 boys is thrilled to hear about your adventure (and can't believe what you did with that camper. My house doesn't look that good!)

    Other commenters have said it, but I'll say it again: The adventure and experiences you're sharing with your boys mean far more than the level of accommodation. I camp in a tent with my boys – a tent my siblings gave me after my divorce — and I don't feel bad about it at all. Would a camper be more convenient? Yeah. But it's not in my budget right now. Should we stay home until we can afford more luxurious accommodations? Absolutely not! There's world to see and experience!

    Have a great time on your trip.

  14. My fondest memories growing up are of my parents, sister and brother and I, all piled into our pop-up on our annual summer vacation. It was the oldest ugliest thing you ever seen, but I wouldn't trade those times for anything. Your boys will not remember what you did or didn't have, they will remember what you did. Enjoy the memories!

  15. I am so sorry your son encountered such a child but as I was reading this I was most angered because of how YOU feel. I think you are AMAZING. I could not do all that you do I think it is remarkable that again you are doing a road trip that has got to be one of the best experiences and lasting memories for your boys. I've seen you cut months of meals and freeze them. You are an amazing mother and are doing an amazing job. Do not let her attitude ruin all that you have accomplished and just know that your boys are going to run into many people like that in their life and the best you can do is teach them correctly not to do it, to not get upset when people act that way, and how to react. Again you are AMAZING!

  16. Kathleen, your pop-up looks AMAZING! And you are doing a great job with your boys. We've had many comments like this over the years, so I know how they feel, try not to dwell on them. You're an amazing mom and woman. People are so rude sometimes, I hope you meet someone on your trip who completely banishes this girls comments.

  17. Your kids won't grow up thinking that their camper is/was small, they're going to grow up knowing that their Mama gave them so many gifts – teaching them to be resourceful, to live with less, to see the world with always curious eyes, the desire to explore and learn, the love of family and the realization that it's ok to all be together in a small space, that Mama can and does do what she sets her mind to and so can they, how to work as a team, etc…. Pretty priceless, if you ask me.

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