Thursday, December 1, 2011

.67 cents

Tonight, as I spread out a super healthy, homemade dinner for three, my son looks a little sad. 
He says "you know, there's a thing at school, if we donate .67 cents to the Great Harvest, it will feed one person".
He looked really disturbed by the thought, I am not sure if it was the thought of people going hungry or just the thought of us having all of this food, seemingly so easily. But he was sad. 
He asked how much I spent at the store and I could tell when I gave him the $147 total he was reeling with thought of how many people that could in fact feed. 
My son is no saint. He would buy gum before giving out a bum dollar (something I carry in my car, the "bum dollar") on MOST occasions, but not all. He is an old soul, it's a weird thing to watch. When he was a baby, like before toddler, if he heard a sad song, he would cry. I'm not kidding. It's a little creepy. So the kids got soul, from this lifetime and another (or others).
I had to explain that if we gave all of our food or money or whatever, to everyone that needed it, we would then be the ones in need. I had to also tell him that we are not filthy rich. I am not sure what kids think when they have parents that don't fight about money. I grew up in a house that was a constant money fight, so I always knew we had none. Not a big deal.
I have money now but sometimes we don't. When my husband takes a few months off to reorganize shop or to say have a baby- we make ziltch. And that's okay.
But to explain to your child that you do have to think about money and even though you can drop a cool $150 on groceries, you can't write a check for 50K to feed the homeless in Ballard. 
I wish I could. If I had Brad Pitts money, I would kick down majorly to my neighborhood and beyond. But I don't. 
I do have the sense and the time to help my child get a grasp on the big picture by looking at the little details. 
If he picked up all the pennies and coins he sees on the street and doesn't put them into his own bank, he could feed a man.
If he rakes the leaves from our backyard and takes half that money and gives it to the food bank- he could feed a family.
So this is what I am thinking about. It is a little sad to think about the hungry at night but you know, it's sad to think about it in the morning too. So instead of being sad, or allowing my son to feel that way, I am just going to help him and myself, do something about it. 
I was not raised to be a philanthropist but I am 100% naturally drawn to it. I realize I will not feed everyone and I might have to break it to my son, at some point, that he can't either because he still believes he can do anything. And as a Mom I am told I should teach that to my child, that they can do anything but I am also a god damn realist, he can't do that. He can't feed all the hungry people, he can't give everyone a winter coat but I guess my job is to teach him that he can be a part of the solution, instead of the problem. So many people know that people need help and I need to teach him that it doesn't matter why those who need it, need it- it only matters that IF you can help- you do.
When I had first met Eddie, we went to NYC for some shows and as we walked through the streets there was a homeless man in a wheelchair and a hat about 10 feet away from him, just off the curb, in the gutter.  I walked over, through the sea of people, picked it up and then gave it to him. He smiled and said "thank you".
It was so simple and I didn't think to much of it at the time, but that moment has come up in so many of our conversations, over the years. I am not sure why it was such a moment, for both of us I think, but I think he saw in me someone who cared about others and I saw a man that needed to start caring about others. So it just clicked. Weird.
And he's still like that and so am I. You can't teach an old dog new tricks. He's gotten a little better, I guess, but I am still the angel and he is most def the devil. Selfish little bastard, I love him though.
If you would like info on the Great Harvest, please leave me a comment. If you have kids it's a great way to get them started and I am sure there's something similar where you live.


  1. I think it speaks volumes as to the kind of parents that you and Eddie are. This and that note from Q's autistic classmate are evidence that Q thinks about how others are treated. That kid is a blinkin' ray o' sunshine. You can see it in the photos you post and the stories you share. In this era of sensory overload from video games, television, internet, etc. it's nice to see - hell, it restores my faith in humanity a little - that there are kids who care about things like 67 cents feeding someone for a day. I hope he isn't discouraged because he can't help EVERYONE. You do what you can. Hopefully that'll inspire others to do likewise. It's a start. You're doing a good job raising those kids. :)

  2. Well now you are in trouble because you are making me cry. I swear, pregnancy hormones are NOT COOL.
    But thank you, I can't say that enough. It is the hardest thing I have ever had to do, wake up and be a parent every day. No days off, no monetary compensation. No one would work this hard at a "job" for nada, you know? It's worth it though and to somehow have this fucking badass child- it's beyond Eddie and I, I mean, I guess we could take the credit, but I just feel like I am absolutely just doing my job. It's what I signed up for, might as well kick some ass. Childhood is fleeting but parenthood isn't so if I totally mess him up, I will have to live with that. Forever! and Mama's not going out like that.

  3. Yep, agree with you completely, Jess. You are a parent EVERY day. And a lot of days it's great, but of course there are those other days. When my daughter was 2 years old I sometimes wondered if she's the devil herself, cause she challenged me so much trying out how far she can go. When she turned 16 years old I started to really enjoy it for the reason that most of the educational part is done - I was just so tired and exhausted of raising my child for the last 16 years all by myself that I thought on her sweet sixteen - yes, good. Two more years she's full-aged, I'm through, yeehaa. But this year she turned 18 and I'm not through with it. Actually I'm glad that I'm not through with it. As you said, Jess, you are a parent forever. I'm not exhausted anymore from being a parent either, now I'm just so proud of her. She is a bit too much into X-box-games and stuff like that, a bit on the nerd side if you ask me, but she still speaks in full sentencnes, goes out to parties, sees her friends and loves Shakespeare and the theatre around the corner from us - so. No need to worry. And last year christmas she and her friends decided instead of giving presents to each other they collect that money and donate it to some organisation that takes care of those who aren't so lucky in life. Had to think of that when you talked about Q and the 67 cent.
    My friend Pia from Philadelphia gave me post-it-notes once that are saying: motherhood is not for whimps. Very right. But we aren't whimps anyway, are we?! Hell no.
    I wish you all the best and lots of fun, hugs from Berlin!