Home > Communication > A seven-year-old’s piñata candy

A seven-year-old’s piñata candy

Anyone who’s been here long enough knows I was concerned about sending my older son to a religious school.

Last week, I had a chance to hear school day opening announcements and … knew there was no better place for Li’l D to be.

Explained one of his future teachers, “Look. Often homeless people aren’t treated with dignity, and we have a chance to bring a little dignity to people in our community who deserve it!” This teacher was on the verge of crying as she asked students to donate items.

Oh, man! my heart soared. She is one of my people!

Yesterday, Li’l D and I stopped by the grocery store.

On our way out, he gave a lady holding a sign marked “HOMELESS STUDENT” three dollars.

“This is three dollars!” he told her, as he handed the money over.

“Shhhhh!” I told him. “Shhhh!” I ushered him away.

As we walked back to the car, he asked me why I shushed him.

I said, “It’s not polite to mention how much money you’re handing over. But, oh, man, what if she thought I was saying that you shouldn’t talk to her at all?! Oh, no! Already people who are homeless don’t get treated with enough dignity–!”

“What’s ‘dignity’?” he asked.

I explained what dignity was, how everyone should be treated with equal portions, and how tuition is now so expensive that some students have to live out of their cars because they can’t afford both rent and tuition.

“Do you want to give her another couple of dollars?” I asked. “And tell her why you came back? Maybe even just, ‘I’m worried about you’?”

He did. So we went back, and he handed her a few extra dollars. He then held out a bag of candy he’d gotten from a birthday party piñata and asked, “Do you want some candy?”

Her first instinct was to say no, but she looked up at his face and her eyes filled with tears. She grabbed a Tootsie Roll and said, “thank you.”

I got choked up, too. “Have a good evening,” I said, though I later wished I’d said, “Be safe.”

My husband recently started calling me his “socialist wife.”

“But people only think bad things about socialism because they don’t understand U.S. agents went and destroyed socialism everywhere it threatened U.S. profits!” I say.

“Yes, yes, I understand,” he says as he pats my knee. “But the point is, you think all people deserve equal dignity, and you’re teaching our kids that … and that’s maybe not a terrible thing.”

I think of my single mom raising four kids solo and smile. She was more than a punchline in someone’s thousand-times-shared BuzzFeed story. I pretty much don’t want anyone to be that punchline ever again. Nobody should have to be sitting out begging for food in the rain. Period. It’s not a yay-my-son! thing that he tried to treat someone with dignity. It’s an oh-god-what-is-our-world-that-this-is-a-victory?! cry.

My seven-year-old treated someone with dignity yesterday.

It should’ve been so routine as to not be worth writing …

But it isn’t, yet, and so … I cried, as a stranger accepted
a seven-year-old’s piñata candy.

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  1. November 20, 2016 at 7:51 pm

    Love this!!! I gave a few dollars to an older gentleman yesterday who was sitting outside of a store asking for help…it made me very sad…and as I was walking away to my car he thanked me and told me to stay warm…I turned back and said you too…the irony of the sincerity of his kind words is haunting me

    • November 20, 2016 at 7:55 pm

      I hear you! “Haunting me” is a phrase I think Li’l D would relate to, having awakened and thought of another hundred things he wished he’d said … and concluding he hopes she’s okay, even as she wished him well as we walked away.

  2. November 20, 2016 at 7:57 pm

    I absolutely adore this story, and you’re right, it shouldn’t even have to be written about because it should be a normal thing to do. It’s not, and that’s saddening. It’s awesome though that you’re teaching your kiddos about it, and they’re listening! Go Mama!! You rock!!

    • November 20, 2016 at 8:00 pm

      In moments like these, I feel like my mom is standing with us. More and more recently, I just get the sense that she is smiling.

      She shouldn’t have had to struggle so hard just to keep a roof over our heads. And maybe, just maybe, what me and my siblings took from our time with her will be a little part of ensuring others have to struggle less.

      I surely hope so. ♥

      • November 20, 2016 at 8:40 pm

        I do too. My parents struggled, and struggled badly as well, but I always had what I needed, and even some of what I wanted. I hope that I can pass on that kindness to those less fortunate. I always try to now, even if it leaves me to struggle a little extra. I’m fortunate to have a roof over my head, food in my stomach and clothes. My children have all of that, and heat, and air depending on the weather. We’re blessed moreso than most. I try to pay it forward with kindness.

  3. November 20, 2016 at 7:59 pm

    There might be hope…

    • November 20, 2016 at 8:01 pm

      The volunteer coordinator where I volunteer once a month told me she’s out of hope. Humans are dead; nothing left can be done to save us.

      I was beginning to tell her how and why I disagreed when clients came. I thus left off with this grim midpoint when I’d meant to wrap up with, “No, no, but there is hope!”

      Maybe we’ll get a chance to continue the conversation next month? I hope so! 🙂

      • November 20, 2016 at 8:11 pm

        My mindset is a lot like hers and then I read something like this. I hope you do get to continue the convo. 🙂

  4. November 20, 2016 at 8:06 pm

    What a wonderful post! Kids are the hope.

  5. November 20, 2016 at 8:19 pm

    There is still hope. Fragile, but it is there. Two weeks ago I went to the funeral of someone taken far too soon. She managed the local homeless drop in centre. Treated them with dignity, as individuals, and rallied other people to help. At her funeral there was a busload of the homeless she was or had assisted. Politicians. Community leaders and like minded souls.
    And when I dropped in to donate foodstuffs (as I do each fortnight) last week I was told that donations have increased.
    Every journey begins with one step. And your precious boy made several today. Thank you. And him.

    • November 20, 2016 at 8:23 pm

      “donations have increased” — *sniffle*

      Such lovely words.

      One step is a great start.

  6. November 21, 2016 at 7:28 am

    It really burns me up beyond words that socialism and thinking socialist is such a bad thing. I curse the media and the elite for making it so horrible to even mention treating others with dignity and respect. I was out shopping with my daughter about a year ago for holiday presents and the person in front of me didn’t have enough money. I could clearly see that she was buying gifts for her family (you don’t buy underpants for friends). As she was deciding and taking away what to put back and not purchase, my daughter took my hand, so in that moment I decided to step up and put my card into the terminal and just paid the whole bill. I didn’t care what it cost and honestly, had the money to spare. She protested, insisted that she didn’t need my help. I just looked at her and said “I know. You didn’t ask for help. My daughter took my hand just now, and I remembered when it was me 8 years ago in your shoes when I had to put things back. I didn’t have someone to help me then, and I won’t be the one that doesn’t help now when I’m able. Have a wonderful holiday.” There were no more words, she just nodded with tear filled eyes and gathered her bags and walked out. My daughter saw, in that instant, what it was to treat someone with dignity and respect. If that’s considered socialism and I’m a socialist for doing that, then so be it. I’m a happy and fulfilled socialist and I’m proud to be one.

    • November 26, 2016 at 12:16 pm

      😀

      I’d guess I have another few months before I can begin to describe socialism. I’ll probably try several times with spectacular failure, while searching for better readings and better words to describe it.

      I do know my mom could have done great things if she hadn’t had to struggle just to survive, with liberals everywhere telling her she could’ve done this or that better. So … now to find “the vocabulary,” as Anthony is always saying!

  7. November 21, 2016 at 10:55 am

    What a lovely story and a great job you are doing with your son 👍

  8. November 21, 2016 at 12:07 pm

    I like this. A lot. I lived homeless for almost 2 years. Ever since then I’ve carried a small “package” of the things I wanted most during those years: a bar of soap, a jar of vasoline to keep my feet from chapping, a comb to comb out lice, hand lotion, and a box of beef jerky. When I lived in a city, I also enclosed my telephone number. I used to get a lot of phone calls that always began, “You probably don’t remember me, but …”

    • November 26, 2016 at 12:17 pm

      I’m so sorry for the two years you spent homeless. I’m sorry for the problems you endure today. None of this is right. None of it. As a stopgap, though, I send much love. ♥

      • November 29, 2016 at 1:37 pm

        It was a long time ago, and it taught me a lot. But it is very, very hard to break the cycle of homelessness until you find a way to get a permanent address and phone number. One can’t even get a job washing dishes, or doing anything but day labor, until one has an address and phone number. For some reason, politicians often forget about that…. And thanks for the love! I need it today more than ever!

  9. November 23, 2016 at 7:07 am

    We do need to treat each other with dignity, all of us Deborah 🙂
    I’m happy to read, that you are teaching your kids to do so.

  10. December 13, 2016 at 12:40 pm

    What a blessing! All parents should teach kids how to treat people with dignity.

  1. December 18, 2016 at 7:05 am

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