photo from wikipedia
You know…some days I give myself pats on the back because I have raised my children to (pseudo) adulthood.
Then I remember…I’m not done yet. They still call me when there are problems, particularly problems in their love lives. At this point, all I can do is tell them how wonderful they are and those other people just don’t understand what losers they are by not appreciating my wonderful children. (In reality, I want to yell “DON'T BE SILLY! YOU ARE YOUNG! GO HAVE FUN! DON”T GET MARRIED AT 23 LIKE I DID!” Then I remember that I love my sweet DL and I don’t want my children to think otherwise. So I don’t say anything, just reassure them that they are wonderful people and that their current significant others are being foolish.)
But that’s my children. There are other young adults whose parents are not so “helpful.”
There is a young man in my town whom I see several times a week. Some days he sits with his beautiful and well-mannered American Bulldog in the median of my Whole Foods shopping center, other days he’s at the Riverbirch intersection. He is clean-shaven, clean-cut, and his clothes are in good condition. His canine friend is adorned with a colorful kerchief. One of his signs is in the grass (“What if it was you?”) and the other he holds in his hand (“Please help if you can. My dog and I are hungry. God Bless.”) Normally, I drive by with a cursory glance and perhaps a nod. But yesterday, I stopped.
And as I pressed $3 into his hand…all I had in my cupholder at the time…I spoke.
And the words I spoke, without even thinking, were “How old are you, son?”
“Twenty-four, ma’am. God Bless you.”
Twenty-four. Between my son and my daughter. Begging for money to feed himself and his dog.
And my thought was, “where is his mama?” And my next thought was, “maybe he doesn’t have one.”
Not having a mama can mean a lot of different things. It can mean that she is gone. It can mean she is emotionally absent. It can mean that she is an addict. It can mean she just doesn’t care about her child any more.
My heart went out to this young man, like my heart goes out to my students, and I wanted to get out of my car and give him (along with his beautiful dog) a hug. But the intersection was busy, and my $3 and a piece of my heart were all I could manage.
My readers are great moms. Here are some words of encouragement to all of you: Keep fighting the good fight. Keep caring. Keep loving. Keep going. Give your kids every tool they need to help themselves when you are not available any more. Do everything in your power to ensure they don’t end up like the boy and his dog. And if you pass a boy and his dog, speak to him the way you would speak to your own child.
And maybe press $3 into his hand.