I’m not sure when “charity” became a bad word. “I’m no charity case” is one of those things people say when their pride gets in the way of common sense when you offer to help them in *something* (not just in financial matters). If you help someone when they need help, you are providing them with charity. What’s wrong with that?
See, because Smarty Pants and his clever family were at the house last night. We had dinner and tried to play a bit of Arkham Horror, but we started too late and eyes were glazing over all around the table. So we quit that while we were ahead.
In a bizarre twist of events, Smarty Pants and I ended up staying in a house with a former co-worker of mine. She had two of her children living with her, a five year old boy and a twelve year old girl. The kids were hungry, because their mum hadn’t been able to find work while her kids had no one to care for them during the day, and any job she did find didn’t pay enough for her to hire a sitter. So she was stuck on the dole, trying to make ends meet, and it wasn’t working at all.
Her mother was visiting last night, and my former co-worker was feeling fairly low. It’s never easy to be a single parent, and it’s nearly impossible when you cannot find work that will support your family. So because Smarty Pants and I were staying at their house (I’m not sure why), we offered to take the kids out to the park for the afternoon so that my former co-worker and her mum could have a good visit.
The kids were excited to be out at the park, and they went nuts on the playground equipment. We took a long walk along the riverbank and ate sandwiches we’d made before we left. There was a public pool in the park, and the I took the kids swimming while Smarty Pants read a book on deck. He’s…not much of a swimmer, I guess.
When we took the kids home, my co-worker’s mother had cleaned the house, top to bottom, and was after getting the kids into ‘ready-for-bed’ mode. Not wanting to be in the way, Smarty Pants and I went next door where the neighbour had a push-mower. Smarty Pants was a little confused as to why only parts of the lawn were cut, so he started farting around with the mower. But then the woman in the house hollered out to leave the silver blades and the matted grass because her husband liked how it looked like snow and that it made him think of Christmas.
We stepped back, and sure enough, in the waning light of the hot summer afternoon, we could see that the lawn *did* look a bit like snow, what with blades made of silver and some mossy-looking white clumps of…some weird kind of grass…But ultimately, this wasn’t what really gave me pause.
What gave me pause was that the house the older couple lived in was the house I grew up in, and that the older couple were Smarty Pant’s parents. His father was watching from the picture window, standing there watching what we were doing. And his mother had pushed open the bangy screen door and was leaning out onto the step.
Smarty Pants nodded his assent and only pushed the mower over the parts of the lawn that had clearly been *intended* to be cut, but which had somehow got missed. His mother hollered ‘thank you’ from the doorway and his father nodded inside the house.
Back at the place we were staying, with my former co-worker, she was getting ready to go out with her own mother, who was offering to buy supper for the family, since they had no food in the house. Smarty Pants and I shared a quick glance and we both knew that we’d be spending the evening at the grocery store, buying brown rice and cases of tinned fruit and vegetables and fresh fruit and vegetables and frozen meat for their family.
In fact, I don’t know what this dream is saying at all, except that I woke with the feeling that Smarty Pants’ parents still do check in on him from time to time.