Spike is 2...maybe 3 years old and she's already amazing!(She's the granddaughter of my coworker. I wish I could meet her someday. My coworker's son, Spike's dad, has been writing letters to her since she was a bun in the oven!)
As usual, you were patient and kept very quiet as I went about my journalistic duties. Finally, after I finished my interviews, I lifted you into my arms and we headed back to the car.
Now, it was your turn to ask questions.
"What is that?" you asked, pointing to the building we had just exited.
"That's the food bank," I said.
"What is a food bank for?"
"It's for people who need food."
"I'm hungry daddy. Let's go to the food bank."
I set you on the curb beside our car and sat down next to you.
"OK... well... that's not how it works," I said.
You stared up at me expectantly and waited for me to continue, but I was having trouble coming up with the right explanation for a two year old — particularly an amazingly empathetic two year old with an incredibly thin emotional skin.
"How does it work, daddy?" you asked.
"Well," I said, pulling you onto my lap, "you know how when you want something to eat, all you have to do is ask mommy or daddy and we get you something from the kitchen?"
"Like macaroni and cheese," you said with a confident nod.
"That's right," I said. "We have lots of food in our kitchen. That makes us very lucky."
"We are lucky to have macaroni and cheese," you agreed.
"But not everyone has food in their kitchen," I continued, pausing to assess how you'd take this news.
Your little brow was furrowed, but your chin wasn't trembling, so I continued on.
"Some people don't always have enough to eat, so they go to the food bank for help."
You nodded your head, shrugged and pushed yourself off my lap. I opened the car door and you hopped into your seat without a word. I figured you had lost interest. And to be honest I was a little bit relieved. I had an article to write and I didn't really need a sobbing child making things difficult.
As I turned on the car, I peered into the rear-view mirror and gave you a smile.
You smiled back, but I could see you were trying to work something out.
"Daddy," you said finally. "We can help the people with no food."
I can't begin to tell you how proud I was of you.
This weekend, we'll take make a special trip to the grocery market to fill a bag of groceries for the food bank. We'll get a few loaves of bread, some meat and some canned vegetables.
And, of course, some macaroni and cheese.