Thursday, 10 October 2013

Week 14: the sleeping man

 My three-year-old son and I, walking through central London. Covent Garden, to be precise. One-thirty in the afternoon.

Austin: [tee hee]: Mummy, that man's sleeping on the floor! Look! [tee hee] Why's he doing that?

[A homeless man, bundled in grime-edged sleeping bags and broken boxes, was lying prone in a doorway.]

Me: He doesn't have a house, like we do. So he has to sleep on the street instead. It's very sad.

Austin: But why doesn't he just ask his friends if he can come for a sleepover at their house?

[At this point, I felt a mixture of pride and sorrow. Satisfaction that my son's experience of the world meant he was sure there would always be a friend to help a person out of a bad situation. Grief that the reality of the world lies far from this ideal, and that, little by little, he'll come to learn this.]

Me: I think the man's friends probably don't have houses either [I couldn't bring myself to tell Austin that this man might not have any friends at all].

Austin: All our friends have houses. And the children in my class do. And all the ones in Big School.

Me: I know. We're very lucky. It's nice to have a house where you, me, Daddy and Gwen can sleep, isn't it?

Austin: yes. I like our house.

This week, my gift was a donation to homeless charity Shelter.

Homeless picture copyright Tomas Castelazo

Post Comment Love


  1. Lovely post and a harsh lesson in life for any toddler. Things like this still upset me know. #PoCoLo

  2. It always amazes me how much they see and can understand . I really admire the way you explained it to him . It's one lesson they don't teach you as parents how to explain the world to our children x

  3. My brother was homeless for long time. He had a lot of friends though, and in most ways he chose to live his lifestyle. I don't understand that, a child has no chance of getting it.

  4. fab post, i love the fact our toddlers are so so innocent but i hate they eventually they have to learn the harsh truths x

  5. Bless him, it is so hard to help them understand but you put it to him so well :) Lovely to see you linking up again and great to see your blog. Thanks for linking to PoCoLo x

  6. Aww! Great post! You did well explaining! x

  7. Lovely post. It is such a harsh reality, and though I know it is the world we live in and I want my kids to learn it from me and not from anyone else, it breaks my heart a little whenever I need to do things like this.
    Very good post.

  8. It's hard for young children to understand but I think it's important for them to learn to help and have compassion for others less unfortunate.