So today brought an opportunity for a life lesson.
We were unsure of our where our travels would lead us today. We have visited all of the ticketed parks and the kids didn’t care to return to any of them. We had no plans, had no schedule, but just had time to do whatever we pleased. Though the weather was warmer than it was at home, we weren’t able to don our suits today and soak up any rays. So,we settled on checking out the few outlet malls in the area and then we would go from there.
Before hitting up our first mall, my husband wanted to start his day like any other, with coffee. Starbuck’s would have to do for today. The whole family went in, and heck we are on vacation pick something kids! Leah chose the chocolate banana smoothie and Emily fueled herself up with a hot chocolate and I ordered some overly expensive chocolatey blended nonsense, but we are on vacation.
As we wait for our order, I see an unshaven, dirty homeless man, bundled in a yellow and black winter-like coat, sitting at one of the tables.
I feel sad, very sad. I wonder about his story. Is he a vet that never got the assistance he deserved when he came home from war? Is he an alcoholic or addict that chooses street life? Did he lose his job, his house and everything else he had and never recovered? Is he mentally ill? Does he have kids? Was he ever married? Does he have living parents? Relatives? Are people kind to him? Has he been robbed of the little he had? Does he get abused by people? So many questions, so many thoughts, none that are happy.
Our order is up. They made an additional hot chocolate which was offered to us since they would throw it out anyway. We had no need for it, but perhaps the homeless man would like it. When you have nothing, a hot chocolate is something – right?
I asked my husband for $10 since he had all the cash. I approached the man and asked him if he wanted a hot chocolate. To which he replied with a blank stare…for what seemed like 30 seconds but was probably about 3 seconds, before he spoke one word, “sure.” It was as if he was looking right through me, like he lost all faith. He didn’t move a bit, just replied by barely moving his lips.
I put the $10 on the table next to the hot chocolate and told him to have a good day.
My firstborn, Leah, I am positive, picked up on everything that happened. She is a keen observer, way beyond her years, who may not ask questions immediately but will think and analyze quietly, and then perhaps will want to discuss the situation at a later time. Maybe even a month from now. On the hand, there is no getting anything, and I mean anything, past Emily without 1,000 questions. Some people say that it’s so wonderful that she’s so inquisitive. Yeah, well you take her for a day, just a day, and see just how wonderful it is!
We no sooner exit the door and there she goes…
“What did you say to him?”
“Why did you ask Dad for $10?”
“Did he say thanks?”
“How do you know he doesn’t have a home?”
“Does he have a car?”
“How did he get there?”
“Does he have a mom and dad?” …
I agree, it’s good for her to ask these questions. I purposely make sure that I do nice gestures in my girls’ presence so they learn kindness, compassion, giving, tolerance, and all the other wonderful life lessons that come with such an experience. So, like always, I answer all the questions. Some I don’t have answers for, others I make up what I think the answer might be, and sometimes I just share that I don’t know the answer.
It’s funny how my two girls process the same interaction. Though maturation may play a part, I believe the difference is just in the kid.
Luckily they don’t know enough about the world yet to know all the evils that exist. I try to shield them as much as possible, for now. I know I can’t do that forever, but I will for as long as I can. Nobody should have to worry about the crises and chaos that looms in our minds on a daily basis. Why subject them to such now? My girls witnessed a caring interaction today and they say actions speak louder than words. It cost me more to buy our Starbuck’s treats this morning than to treat this man.
I don’t know what he did with that money today. Would he use it for a necessity such as food or for what may be his necessity, alcohol or drugs? I will never know, but what I do know is that man might be touched that someone cared enough to pay attention to him and he got what HE needed for the day. I try not to enable, but it’s not really up to me to judge. I don’t know this man’s story, but it must be a rough one. One that I am blessed to not have experienced. He is someone’s son, maybe husband, brother, nephew, and friend. How would you want your loved one to be treated?
Every ONE makes and can make a difference!