The innocence of kids. It blows me away sometimes.
Yesterday evening was one of those times. Having picked the boy up from his grandmother’s, where he had spent an exciting afternoon mainly eating, playing snap and eating, we were on our way home via the M3 and then slipping down the Constantia Main Road off-ramp. At the lights on the junction, I saw a mother and her two kids sitting by the side of the road, begging.
Sadly, this isn’t an unusual sight in South Africa, but I have seen this lady here before. She has two daughters – almost exactly the same ages as our two kids (3¾ & 1½, for new readers). And that kind of makes it a bit more personal.
As it happened, I had a small packet of sweets with me which I had planned to share with Alex, but given his gastronomic exploits throughout the afternoon, I had thought better of that idea. Thus, the kids by the side of the road became the grateful beneficiaries of a packet of candy polar bears. Seeing the young girls’ delight at the quickly opened packet and its contents brought a lump to my throat. So I probably wasn’t ideally prepared for what followed.
As the lights changed and we headed home, Alex piped up.
“Why did you give the lady some sweets?”
“Because the lady and her children were hungry.”
“Where do those children live, Daddy?”
“I don’t think they have a home, Alex.”
“So where do they sleep then?”
“I think they sleep wherever they can find some shelter.”
“And where do they eat breakfast?”
“I don’t think they have breakfast, Alex. That’s why they are hungry.”
There was a brief pause in the inquisition from the back seat.
“I’ve got an idea, Daddy. We can take them breakfast.”
And despite the much deeper issues that lie behind their situation, Alex was right: We can take them breakfast.
And because I’m a great believer in actions speaking louder than words, this Saturday, we’re going to take that mother and her kids some breakfast. Yes, I recognise that this isn’t a solution; I know that it won’t solve anything other than their hunger that day, but it will at least solve that.
And when u-turn finally get back to me (hello?!?), we’ll maybe be able to help them out a little more.