So. The other day Mia and I are driving–well, Mia’s not driving. She’s riding in the backseat. We’re in traffic, stopped at a stoplight near an onramp to the interstate, and there’s this homeless man holding up a sign that says: "HOMELESS." It also said something about being starving and asking for food. And, being as how he was less than a foot away from my car, and remembering the granola bar stash I keep in Merrick’s backpack, I crack open my door and toss the man a few. He grins a big, toothless grin, says "Thank you so much", and I drive off, feeling slightly happy but mostly wondering what I’m going to feed the kids should they start throwing a tantrum once they do get hungry, because my kids are all about tantrums.
And here’s Mia: "Why did you give him our granola bars? He can’t even chew them with no teeth!"
And here’s me: "…..Oh."
Mia has had nightmares about this toothless homeless man every night since then. I don’t think in any of her dreams he’s actively doing something horrible, he’s just there. So imagine my surprise when, this morning, Mia pops up with this idea: "Hey. Mom. I cannot stop thinking about that guy with no teeth. Maybe we can find him again and give him some yogurt. Or some mashed potatoes."
Me: "Hmm. Well, we could try to find him, but I think maybe we could give him some food that won’t go bad right away, like a can of soup or something."
Mia: "Yeah! We’ll bring him a whole box of soup!"
Me: "Don’t you think it would be tough carring around a heavy box of cans?"
Mia: "Oh. Probably. Maybe we could get him a backpack. And put some bananas in it so he can mash them. And maybe some pink milk, since that’s healthy for teeth."
Me, getting into the idea: "What other kinds of things do you think he could use in a backpack? Some blankets, or soap?"
Mia: "Hmm. And a book to read. So he’ll have something to do when he’s bored. No, better than that–something to color! We could buy a bunch of cheap coloring books!"
It was at this point I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. Here is my child, being so caring and thoughtful, towards a man that she’s never even met, a man that in her dreams she is scared to death of. She goes to bed thinking about him and she wakes up with ideas about how to help him, and all I can focus on lately is 1. Planning a fall trip to New Mexico, 2. Whether I should buy hiking shoes or make-up with my birthday money, or 3. Finding time to exercise so I can loose the booty fat that was brought on by all the EXCESS FOOD that we eat around here.
My 5-year-old daughter has once again put me in my place. I’m a shmuck.
So today, when we go to the dollar store to spend Mia’s tooth fairy money, I’ll be picking up a backpack, some canned soup, and a blanket. And probably a cheap coloring book or two.