It’s never easy to talk to our kids about the harsh realities of life. I remember the first time I told my oldest daughter about “stranger-danger” I got sweaty pits! She’s already shy enough, I thought. What’s she going to do now, not talk to anyone?!
But luckily my husband handled it with the ease he exudes in most situations and just told her the facts: “If you don’t know someone and he’s trying to get information from you, just say ‘no thank you’ and walk away.” Simple right? His approach to homelessness was also the same.
When our kids started asking questions like: “What’s that man doing?”and “Why’s he holding up that sign?”, he told them the truth:“Well, that man is homeless, which means that he doesn’t have a house to live in. And he’s holding up that sign because he’s hoping we will help him.”“Oh daddy, we have to help him!” exclaimed our seven-year old. “I would be SO SAD if I didn’t have a home. What would I do without my bed!?!”“And my blanket!” chimed our five-year old.“And my toys!” yelled our three-year old. “I know,” my husband said, “It is sad.”
“Can we give him our home?” asked our five-year old earnestly.
“No….but we could give him a granola bar.”
This made me laugh out loud — a granola bar?!? But our kids LOVED the idea, so we bought the granola bars later that day.
Weeks went by without an opportunity to hand one out though. And I admit, every time I looked down at those crunchy little granola bars, all I wanted to do was rip one open and shove it in my face! (Clearly I have self control issues.) But soon enough, our chance came.
“Mom!” my three-year old yelled as I rolled up to an intersection one day. “There’s a lady holding up a sign! Can we give her a granola bar?”
“Sure we can,” I said. But you guys, the moment I said those words, I got sweaty-pits again!
What if this woman yells at my kids for giving her a lousy granola bar? What if my kids are traumatized by this whole thing and it backfires??!
But in that moment I felt God say, Trust me, Jonna. So I did. I handed my three-year old a granola bar, rolled down her window, and watched in amazement as barriers were shattered.
“Thank you, baby,” the woman smiled, accepting the gift graciously. She didn’t look at us with contempt, as I had feared, or with a sloppy stare. She looked at us with honest-to-God love and kindness. My skeptical, adult mind was blown!
“I wanna do it next time!” shouted my 5 year-old from the backseat of the car. And thus, our family tradition of “granola bar kindness” was born!
That first little granola bar made a BIG impact on my kids. It also opened the door for many other conversations about how to help people in our city, so I encourage you to try it out too! All it takes is a little effort…and perhaps, a “little” granola bar.
“In this life we cannot always do great things, but we can do small things with great love.” ~ Mother Theresa
Jonna Meidal is a mother to 3 girls who seeks to parent them by the fruits of the spirit (and her Quiet Hat). She’s been to 20 countries (yay!), loves to write & laugh (a LOT), & can’t get through the day without eating popcorn (duh!). You can read more of what she’s been up to at jonnameidal.com or follow her adventures on Instagram @quiet.hat.adventures.