We drove by a homeless man yesterday with a sign, HOMELESS, WILL WORK 8 HOURS FOR $50. It's not uncommon to see this in our community. The kid's haven't asked about it in the past, but I pointed it out to them. I explained that the man was looking for work to get money to take care of himself. I told them there are lots of reasons someone might not have a job and we are grateful that Daddy has work. The had a few questions and then Ella quietly said, "I hope someone gets him job soon."
After leaving Target today we passed a young couple as I was getting off the freeway. Their sign read HUNGRY. Before I even processed it both Maxwell and Ella pointed them as we drove off. "Mom what did their sign say? Do they need a job too?" I nodded. "They don't have a house either?" Maxwell asked. "I'm not sure," I said. "But it doesn't look like it."
"Silly Mom," Maxwell said. "We have too many beds at our house. They can sleep in Michael's room" (our guest room). And just like that my eyes filled with tears and I said a prayer of thanks for the innocence of a child's heart. Because he's right. The simple truth is we do have too many beds. And those were cold, hungry people on a rainy day.
Of course it's much more complicated than that, but it was a gentle reminder. I have more than I need, even when it feels like I don't have enough. And my kids are watching me. Imitating me. Not just with this, but with everything. Now that they're aware of homeless, how do I want them to respond to them? Should we give money when we can? Keep bags of food in the car? Buy meals? Maybe. I think all of those things are good. But I think the most important lesson for me to teach my children is not to look away. I want Maxwell and Ella to look at people in the eye and smile. They can show love by seeing people who may be feeling invisible. I want to teach my children awareness, so that they can show compassion to others but also so they appreciate all that we have.
There are a million reasons someone may hold a sign. I don't need to judge these reasons.