Why, mommy?

When Elliot, our angel for the first half of the day, arrived back at our house from playing with Mercy and Aaron at the park, he told me that the kids had done great but had witnessed something unfortunate. He said that while they were playing, the police had arrived and had gotten into a confrontation with some of the homeless people who “live” there. At one point, the officers ended up taking out their tasers and after a struggle, handcuffed one of the men and put him into their patrol car.

As Elliot was telling me about this, I noticed that both Mercy and Aaron had stopped playing and were watching me intently with wide eyes. I turned to Mercy and asked her if she saw the police get angry with the man and she nodded. Then after a moment she asked: “Why were they angry with the man?”

What do you tell your two year old about taser guns and police confrontations? How do you explain that these people were in trouble because they sleep in the park? How do you speak of all of it without locking in fear of those in either uniform?

Whenever we hear sirens, which is often, we always acknowledge them, saying: “They’re going to help the people.” When is a child old enough to see that the world is not always so black and white?

We have good friends here who are regularly in our home who used to sleep in that park. In fact, it is because they slept there that we met them; that they came to be involved in our church. When and how do we talk about that?


  1. When Jan and I lived in your neighborhood we regularly took our 5 year old daughter Rebecca to meet the homeless folks who lived under the Hoover/Santa Monica Freeway overpass. So from experience I guess I’d say a 5 year old can figure it out.

    I think kids learn most through modeling. Given the way you’re living your life, I think your kids will get the sophisticated distinctions you’re trying to draw in this post and on your blog with less verbal input on your part than you might believe. :^) I’d guess your parents exposed you to things that you probably haven’t ever talked about but which made a big difference in your life.

    As for how to respond to sirens in South Central, well, that is complicated.

  2. Amen, Tom.
    Erika, your heart coming out in your actions will continue to speak louder than wailing sirens.
    Just keep livin’ and lovin’ sister.


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