Yesterday, we met a boy at the library and I can’t get him off my mind. He was lingering in the children’s section holding a couple of impressive chapter books so I assumed he was older than Lucas (but it turns out he was six too.)
Nicely dressed and polite he struck up a conversation with me about his books, recommending that I check them out myself. “If only I had time for youth espionage books!” I think as I’m trying to keep my ever-fleeing daughter within my sight.
Lucas was in the next aisle admiring how the spines of the World Book Encyclopedia volumes lined up to make a huge photo of a parrot. He joined us a moment later.
The boy (R) asked us our names and introduced himself. For a moment I wondered where his mom was, then decided she was probably nearby looking at adult books.
I wanted to find a particular children’s book but was having trouble logging in to the computers when R suggested I use another computer that didn’t require me to remember my library pin. Problem solved. He proceeded to track down that book as fast as lightning!
Sitting on the aisle floor, flipping through books I told my kids that when we got home we could sit on the couch and read before Sofia’s nap.
R looked up at me and asked with genuine interest, “You have a couch?”
Me: “Yes.” (Honestly, I had no idea why he was asking me this.)
R: “Do you have a couch, in a living room, with a big TV?”
Me: “Well, yes … … Do you?” (I thought that maybe he was going to complain about having a small TV. I was hoping he was going to complain about a small TV.)
R: “We live in a hotel room, with a tiny fridge…
…I want to play outside but my grandma always wants me to go to sleep.”
(My heart is reaching out for this woman. For this whole family.)
R followed us to the checkout counter and his grandmother looked up from nearby computer. She seemed pleasant but tired. In her lap sat an adorable 2-yr old, every bit as robust and cheerful as my own daughter. 6 and 2, just like mine.
The little girl bounced toward Sofia and they stood there, smiling and admiring each other.
And this is what replays in my mind. These sweet little girls and the question I don’t think I’ve ever heard before. “You have a couch?”
Meeting this family has reinforced my intention of eventually (when Sofia goes to school) bringing nutrition classes and services to communities where people could not otherwise afford them. Not so much to tell them which greens have the highest ANDI score, but to listen to the daily challenges they face in nourishing their families and to offer any help that I can.
By the way, these children looked in no way undernourished – the exact opposite. They looked strong and well cared for. But I know how much effort it takes to feed my oan children three squares (plus) in my comfortable home and can’t comprehend how much work it is for this woman in cramped and temporary quarters with a “tiny fridge.”
Can you? What does this bring up for you?
(Pictured – Hearty Quinoa Cookies from The Nourishing Gourmet using dried cranberries instead of raisins.)