It Really Does Take a Village
We pulled up to the coffee shop just as the latest news about Haiti came on the radio. Normally, my daughter wouldn’t be listening. She’d be daydreaming, watching cars go by. But I stopped, held breathless by the story of a man waiting for medical help for one of his daughters. His other little girl was already dead.
So my daughter stopped and listened too. “Turn it off, mommy,” she said. “I don’t want to hear about that.”
Her face in the rear view mirror was solemn. Her dimple was nowhere in sight, only sad eyes and a down-turned mouth.
I flicked off the radio, and we went into the coffee shop for a cinnamon bun and a hot chocolate. I felt like a schmuck. I’d missed my chance to talk about some serious things with my daughter.
I argued internally that it’s better to protect a child from such terrifying things, especially when she doesn’t have to live through them. But it didn’t sit right with me. I want her to understand the world stretches out past our quiet townhouse in Calgary. She needs to know how fortunate she is to live where the ground beneath her feet is sound, and most people are wealthy beyond the rest of the world’s wildest imagination.
But somehow, “hey, remember that man we heard about on the radio, the one whose daughter died,” didn’t seem like the right approach.
No footware require - Photo by Author
I struggled with a way to introduce the conversation to her for days. Then one night, around dinner, she asked if she could do a chore for a dollar. Despite my tattoos and formally wicked ways, I am one of the most old-fashioned people you’ll ever meet. I refuse to pay for chores, for something I believe is her responsibility in the upkeep of our home. I was about to launch into a lecture that would’ve aged me 20 years on the spot, when she sputtered out a speech of her own.
“If every kid in my school does one chore for a dollar, we can raise hundreds of dollars to help the people in Hay-tee.” She’d obviously been coached. Between the supremely earnest look on her face and the way she pronounced the name of a country she’d never even heard of before, I could barely restrain my tears.
“There was a really, really, really, really big earthquake,” she said, with her eyes enormous. “And a lot of people got hurt and died. And now they need our help.”
While I’d been muddling over how to talk with my daughter about Haiti, someone else did it for me. And I couldn’t be more grateful.
She can’t learn everything from me. Even – and probably especially – the biggest lessons, the ones that will shape her life.