He appeared homeless and possibly under the influence of a substance. Or maybe he was just exhausted. But he was kind to us and we did not show kindness in return.“He has beautiful eyes,” the stranger on the street said, about my son. He then reached out and touched my son’s hand, gently. “You are a good boy, aren’t you? You look like your daddy.”

He was probably homeless, appearing very unkempt. He also appeared inebriated. He was slurring and swaying as he talked to us, on the corner, as we waited for the crosswalk to turn green. He was a stranger who was talking to, and touching with his dirty hands, my child.

It happened a couple of weeks ago, while visiting the city closest to our home. A small Midwest city, but a city to us. It is a place unlike suburbia—it is a place where there are good pizza joints, taxicabs, and trendy downtown lofts, rather than cul-de-sacs, strip malls, and yards where kids play. It is also where my kids see people who are homeless.

The man who approached us scared me. I didn’t know him or what he wanted or what he was capable of. We stood there, on the corner of that intersection, politely acknowledging him with forced smiles, with clenched jaws, all the while gripping the small hands of our kids, for a minute or so. That’s all it was—a minute. He did not pose a danger to our family, but rather showed us kindness. And what did we do in return? Nothing. We barely made eye contact. We counted the seconds until the crosswalk turned green for us to get away from him, away from his toothless smile, away from the smell of his unwashed clothes.

It wasn’t until we had moved beyond that street and were a full block away that we relaxed our grips a bit and allowed our kids to skip ahead a step or two. We breathed a sigh of relief and continued on our way. We didn’t look back to see where he went next or whom he spoke to next.

And it wasn’t until that evening, after a long day in the city, after my kids were tucked under their covers in bed, that I thought of him again. While replaying the scene in my mind, my previous feelings of fear had turned to guilt. I recalled then, hours later, that there was a hotdog stand on the opposite corner. My kids had begged for hotdogs, but we had said no, for we didn’t want to stop in such an unsafe part of town, where this man was lingering. It wasn’t until hours later that I considered what our alternative options were.

We could have acknowledged this kind man with more than forced smiles. We could have said, “Thank you, Sir. He is a good boy.” We could have purchased him a hot dog.

But we didn’t.

I am committed, as a mother, to teaching my children about empathy and compassion. We donate to various food drives every year around this time and my kids know why. They know that there are hungry people—hungry children even—who need our food donations. We round up old toys and clothes and donate those to those we call the “less fortunate” or the “underprivileged.” We drop them off at donation centers that are safely and comfortably located in our suburban town.

We keep our kids in their bubble. And by doing so, we prevent them from truly seeing, truly comprehending, what is on the other side of those donations—what a person looks like, lives like, who accepts our donations. We keep that world hidden from our kids, for fear of… what? Safety? Would we have put our children in harm’s way if we had bought that kind man a hotdog? Or do we keep our kids in their bubble for comfort? I realized, that evening, after my kids were sound asleep in their warm beds, as I wondered where that kind man was going to sleep that night, what the truth was. It is uncomfortable to expose ourselves to the “less fortunate” and “underprivileged.” It is a nice, feel-good deed to pack up unwanted things and deliver them to a middle-man—a donation center or drop off bin in suburbia. But coming face to face with the person who takes your unwanted things is a very different experience.

Where is the line? At what point does parenthood negate compassion? Of course it is our primary job to keep our kids safe. But what is the cost? What lesson did my kids miss out on, that day? We should help the less fortunate, Mommy says. There are hungry people who deserve food. Yet, when faced with such a person, Mommy took her kids and ran away.

I don’t know what would have happened had we offered that man a meal. I don’t know if he was homeless or under the influence of a substance or just plain exhausted. But I do know that I am not homeless. That I am well-fed and very privileged and very fortunate. And that there is more to teaching our kids compassion than dropping off old toys at Good Will.

This post was originally published on Bon Bon Break.

Taking a 8yo and 4yo to Worlds of Fun around Halloween means candy, spooky music, lots of rides, and maybe a zombie-filled parade.You may have read about our adventures this summer at Oceans of Fun—all about how KC Parent Magazine sent us there for the day and how super easy it is to manage three kids of three different heights at an amusement park. Ha! However, it was an awesome day and the kids had a ball. Well, KC Parent again has provided us with a fun day full of memories—this time to Worlds of Fun. Here’s how it went.

Only my boys were in tow for this adventure, as my 6-year-old daughter had a birthday party that was not to be missed. My sons are 8 and 4. The 8-year-old loves roller coasters. The 4-year-old loves roller coasters. But only the 8-year-old is tall Continue Reading

They still hold my hand. They aren't online yet. They play without me and give me space. Ages 4, 6, and 8. The sweet spot.The early days of motherhood are a foggy half-conscious dream, or a nightmare some days. You wonder if you’ll ever leave the house again, or wear real clothes again, or feel like a human who does things other than watch Thomas the Train and wipe up poop.

After a few years, the clouds part and one day you see yourself return. Maybe you had a quiet shower without interruption. Or you slept the whole night through. Or you went on a date with your husband and wore sexy boots. You realize you are conscious again. You made it through the storm. Your body might feel softer, you might see a few gray hairs, but you’re still here.

Years down the line, after years of tiny feet bouncing downstairs at six a.m., the house begins to quiet. Part-time jobs, driver’s licenses, girlfriends and boyfriends usurp the precious mom-time that used to be. You realize several days have passed and you haven’t had a true conversation with your child.

Other than the pile of laundry he left at your feet, you wonder how much he needs you and misses you Continue Reading

Visit Oceans of Fun for a fun day full of memories. There is something for everyone—from thrill rides to splash pads for little kids.

***KC Parent Magazine provided my family with complimentary admission tickets to Oceans of Fun in exchange for this post.***

In bloggerville, we’re offered products all the time. Try our yogurt! Can we send you free socks for your kids if you write about them?! Here’s some free coffee! Because mommies love coffee! And while we love free stuff, (especially coffee), what’s even more exciting is getting to have an experience and make memories with our little buggers. That’s exactly what I was able to do with my kids last Wednesday, on a 92-degree day, here in Kansas City. We got to visit Oceans of Fun for the first time. And it did not disappoint.

If you have 3 kids close in age, and/or if you have kids of both genders, you know that finding a source of entertainment for all of them can be a challenge. Impossible, really. We have 2 boys and a girl. Our boys are 8 and 4; our daughter is 6. Each is a daredevil in his/her own way; each has fears that the others don’t have. We knew, based on recent vacations, that Continue Reading