My daughter had been sick for just short of two weeks, and her being ill combined with the chilly winter weather and a 7 week old baby in the house meant we had been house-bound for just as long. The only excursions we had been on lately had been to the doctor and the pharmacist, and the cracks were starting to show.
So it was that one cold, blustery afternoon we all bundled up warm and went for a drive to the beach. We even took the two Labs along for the ride, who despite not being able to carelessly sniff the incoming smells from the closed windows, were also excited for a break from our self-imposed exile.
One of the joys of childhood is innocence, and that innocence in my children is something that I would like to protect for as long as possible. Living in South Africa is making that a hard goal to achieve. Pulling up to a robot one day and a person begging approaches my car, my friendly happy little girl waves at him, and my heart aches for the day when she asks me why he is standing there and I will have to try and explain the concept of being homeless to her.
I’ve tried to instil an understanding of how fortunate we are to her already, by giving thanks each day for our families, our toys, our house, our warm beds, the food on our tables, our friends at school. But at the same time I have to acknowledge that this is a difficult concept for a small child to understand. Sad to say the truth is that it won’t be long before the concept becomes clearer to her, and then she will begin to understand that the world in which we live is not fair.
Back to our car trip to the beach…as I mentioned it was a cold day and there were a number of less fortunate people asking for help. To my absolute dismay there were even young children who were standing shirtless and shivering. The realities of living in South Africa are always driven home hard when venturing into the city, and for me that day seeing a child in need when mine was all wrapped up warm and safe inside with us was very hard.
We ended off our outing with some takeaway for the evening. Sitting back at home eating our dinner my little girl wasn’t keen on eating hers and after the heartache I’d just witnessed her ignorance as to how blessed we are and how other people were suffering felt like a bitter pill. I ate my food, but I didn’t even taste it with my sadness welling up from deep inside.
It’s a parent’s duty to teach their children compassion, respect, gratefulness. And I’ve been trying to foster these traits in my little girl. I realise she’s still young, and that ignorance is bliss, but I also know that I want her to grow into a caring person who embodies the traits I value so highly. Even though she is young I can’t let her munch on a Jolly Jammer and then discard half of it onto the floor without caring…that’s simply not in my nature, and I’m hoping it’s not in her nature either.