There is a homeless man who comes and goes from our neighborhood and he’s been back for about a week. He’s clearly mentally ill and prone to fits of shouting at anyone who walks by (real or imaginary). He’s got a shopping cart and bags full of his things that he arranges by his sidewalk bed.
He was out yesterday, a bitter-cold and windy evening, sleeping on the sidewalk on a busy stretch of Olympic. I walked by with my boys who were both wearing two shirts, jackets, hats and boots. I told them to stay close because I was worried the man would start yelling and scare them.
That didn’t happen and the man just looked like he was trying to stay warm. My older son asked me why he was out there, why he didn’t have a place to stay. He’s been asking a lot about homeless people lately. I told him that some people don’t have a place to live and no money. I never know how far to go into the misery of the world with him. I want my kids to know that things aren’t easy for people and we need to help out as much as we can. But I don’t want to scare them or contribute to them growing up too fast.
As we walked on, my older son said “I have a great idea.” He asked me if I remembered when they rode bikes at school for the (St. Jude’s Children’s Research) Hospital. Maybe we could do the same for the homeless people.
When he was walking around the house saying “Barack Obama is the man for change,” I took that with a grain of salt. He heard me talking about the election and was just repeating a campaign slogan. But this was different. He came up with this on his own. He felt something for another human being and wants to help. I’ve never been so proud.