A time when I didn't have a good answer.

Thursday, April 6, 2017



You know those moments in parenthood where you look back and think, "Pretty sure my kid was the one teaching something here." Today I had one of those moments, and for some reason, I can't seem to shake it off.

But, maybe that's the point. Maybe it needs to stick with me and make me feel a little bit uncomfortable so I can learn the lesson.



Here's what happened...

The kids and I were in the car, out to get some bagels. I had just gotten a piece of good news, and I was excitedly chatting about it with my brother on the phone. (Don't worry, it was on speaker!) As usual, whenever the kids hear or see me talking to someone, they immediately have, like, a thousand things they just HAVE to tell me, and it has to be RIGHT NOW.



So, I'm on the phone, and I keep giving my kids half-answers, while trying to finish telling my brother the details about my news. I pull up to a red light, and I'm the first one in my lane. As I wait at the light, I hear Sof say, "Who's that man, mama?" I ignore her because I didn't really know who she was talking about, and again, I was on a call. But, then again, she asks, "Mama, who is that? Why's he standing there?"

I look over and see who's she talking about.

"He's homeless, baby."

- "What does that mean?"

"It means that he doesn't have a home."

- "So, you mean he has to sleep on the sidewalks or on the streets?"

"Maybe. There are special places where homeless people can go to and get help. Sometimes they can sleep there."

- (pauses) "What did his sign say?"

"I don't know, sweetheart, I didn't see. But, maybe he was looking for a job, or asking for money."

- "Why didn't you give him any money?"

I sit there, not saying anything.

- Again she asks, "Why didn't you give him any money, mama? Is it because you don't have any monies?"

This is where I got stuck. Why didn't I give him any money? Was it because I didn't have any? Well, that wasn't true. I knew I had a few singles in my backpack sitting right next to me.

The truth was I simply didn't have a good answer. I had a couple of answers running in my head that weren't very good; maybe he'd use the money to buy something that wasn't good for him. Maybe I was feeling extra nervous because the driver side window sticks when I roll it down. I'm sure I could have come up with a dozen not-very-good reasons.

So, after she asked me a third time, I simply said, "I don't know."

That was all I could muster up. I didn't want lie and say I didn't have anything for him. That would have been SO easy to do, but I couldn't do that to myself or to her.

- "So you couldn't help him?"

And that's when I knew I had to show Sof that even mommies need to be humbled.

"No, Sof. I could've helped him, but I didn't. I should have done better. Thanks for reminding me to be better."

- "It's okay, mama. Next time we can help."

***



It hit me hard that Sof still only sees people in the very best way. She doesn't judge, doesn't care about people's pasts, and doesn't understand why we don't always make the right decisions. I mean, that's exactly what we try to teach her, right? To mourn with those who mourn, visit the sick, and help the poor? How can I teach her about giving away the shirts off our backs, if I'm not willing to take a second and pull out some spare change.

Anyway, I learned a really important lesson today. And I think it was good for her to see that.

***Sof's darling shirt and skirt c/o Lucy & Leo.

4 comments:

  1. Karin, I think you handled that really well, actually. I think it's good to admit that we don't know something to our children. Living in California, we have a huge homeless population, and I've been thinking a lot about ways we can serve. Sometimes we give to individuals and sometimes we don't, and I know my son will ask me about it one day. These kids have a way of keeping us honest! You've done a great job parenting!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I just realized my autocorrect mistakenly changed your name to Karin. Sorry!!! I am 110% sure I typed Karim

      Delete
  2. Hey! I love your post and I completely relate to your parenting discomfort. Years ago, when I worked for LDS Humanitarian (with responsibilities over homeless outreach and on committees over panhandling), I wrote a blog post that may give you some perspective and ideas. The statistics are obviously outdated, but the principles may be relevant. I hope it helps. :)

    https://thedispencery.wordpress.com/2013/06/28/i-yelled-at-a-panhandler/

    ReplyDelete
  3. Overnight Respite provides you with professional and compassionate aged care services at your home.We believe in providing better home care services.

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