Monday, February 07, 2011
Single family dwelling
It was about as carefree a day as we'd had in a while, a welcome break from the usual routines of family life back home. On this day, there was no school and no work. There was also no one to visit in hospital, no trips to cemeteries and no unexpected phone calls. They could be kids again.
That all changed after we parked the car near this star-struck SUV. Our daughter noticed it first, wondering aloud at a sight she'd never seen back home. I carefully explained how this seemed to be someone's home, that cars often become homes for those who have no other option.
Our kids paused beside the car, no doubt wondering what separated them from the unseen soul who had filled it beyond the door sills with the leftovers of a challenging life. Needless to say, the inside of this car wasn't as happy as the one we'd just exited. How could it be?
I stopped talking as they watched. They needed to experience the reality without Dad's embellishment. They were - and are - smart enough and sensitive enough to figure out for themselves how lucky they are, and how the lessons they've been learning all their lives - charity, community, empathy among them - often present themselves in jarring ways when they least expect it.
Another life lesson I wish the world didn't have to teach them.
Your turn: How do you explain homelessness to a child?