Monday, February 07, 2011

Single family dwelling

We came across this rather well used Ford Escape in a south Florida parking lot. I was hanging with the kids, zinging them between lunch, beach and family, and enjoying every minute of it. The mood in the car was playful as we figured out our next move, writing the day's script as we went along.

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?

4 comments:

bruce said...

i have no idea on this one...i wish it were easy but it is not.


i remember seeing homless people when were were in the keys. my daughter was about 6. a homeless guy took our picture at the southernmost point of the continenetal USA. i gave him 5 bucks and my daughter asked why..

i replied because he needs it more than we do...(and i thought and he did nto steal our camera...)

Bruce
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Alexia said...

Well I'm thankful that I've never had to do that - it would be a very difficult concept to explain to a child whose home is caring, loving and stable.

Karen S. said...

This is probably a homeless person, although my hubby has a (now divorced) friend who has an enormous house (must hate going home to nobody) cuz you'd think by looking at the inside of his car (Caddy) that he were homeless but he's just...just well maybe he just.....?!!!!

fredamans said...

Sometimes people have cars that looked lived in, but just the same have a beautiful home. I can see if you spend more time in your car than at home, it could look like you are homeless. This photo is based on assumptions, I assume no one actually asked the occupant if he was homeless. So maybe this is just another case of I travel, therefore I look homeless.