11/09/2011 07:50 am ET Updated Jan 09, 2012

Explaining What 'Fortunate' Means

Ever try to explain a concept to your child and realize you are failing miserably?

This happens to me all the time.

Getting that glimpse of how differently they relate to the world is pretty special. It happened to me a few weeks ago...

My four-year-old and I went to the post office and I gave my change to a homeless man who always sits outside with a sign. On this particular day, my son questioned why I gave him my change.

At some point during the car ride home, I must have said something like "giving to those less fortunate" because hours later, that same night, the following conversation happened...


He asks me what "fortunate" means and I know immediately he is still thinking about the homeless man we encountered earlier.

He isn't satisfied with a synonym like "lucky" which I attempt at first. No, he desires a deeper explanation.

So I try.


I basically tell him that we are fortunate because we have a home and the homeless man might have to live in a cardboard box.

At first, I think I did a pretty good job.


But he latches onto the cardboard box idea too eagerly. Too enthusiastically.


And by the look on his face I can tell he has the wrong idea.


So I try again. Further explaining how it would basically suck to be homeless. Being an adult female, I mention not having a bathroom. Obviously.

He asks me where the man goes to the bathroom to clarify.


I could tell I have failed once again.


So I get smarter.

I think about who my audience is.

And try again.


Having no freezer in your cardboard box has lots of consequences.



He gets it. Fully understands the impact.

So much so that he is downright concerned. He comes up with his own charitable idea.


And I say sure. That we can ask the man if he wants one.

So if you ever see a little boy handing an ice cream treat to a homeless man at the post office...

Well, that little boy just might be mine.

And THIS is what fortunate means.

Original article published on the blog Parenting. Illustrated with Crappy Pictures