Today, I bought a homeless man a cup of coffee and I am ashamed of myself

So, what’s this doing on a parenting blog? I hear you ask.

Well you see, it is about parenting. Not about setting your kids up for the future so they won’t become homeless. It’s not about the importance of education. It’s not about encouraging your kids to make the most of their lives. You know all that. What this is a bout is US!

You see, I’ve bought this lovely homeless man a cup of tea quite a few times. I’ll go into town and if I spot him, I’ll nip into the coffee shop and get him a cuppa. So this is nothing different for me. So why now am I ashamed of myself?

Well usually I just hand him a cuppa and to save potential embarrassment on his part, I just say “take care” to which he always replies “God Bless love” and I’m on my way. But today I spotted him. He looked so cold. Smoking a cigarette that he obviously found, half smoked and stomped out on the ground (it was pretty flat!). But I was too busy to go get him a cuppa. I had things to do and had to get home.
This is where I am ashamed. I stopped and thought about giving him the money so he could go get it himself. Then I started thinking about what else he might do with the money. Would he go and buy cigarettes? Would he go and buy a cheap bottle of wine from the bottle shop? You see, a lot of our homeless people do have substance abuse problems, namely drugs and alcohol. A lot have gambling problems and mental health problems. BUT NOT ALL OF THEM!
A lot of Parent’s Immunise or don’t immunise their children. A lot of parent’s Breast or bottle feed. A lot of parent’s Home school, private or public school their kids. The list of parenting choices just goes on and on but I DON’T JUDGE.
A lot of parents abuse their children, BUT NOT ALL OF THEM!
But today, I presumed the worst of this man. I presumed that he would do the wrong thing (by my standards) with the miserable $5 I gave him.
I gave myself a smack and discretely gave him the money saying to him “Here’s some money for a cup of tea”.
His response was sweet. He gave me the biggest smile and said, “I actually prefer coffee, tea makes me need to pee too much! God bless you love”. Note to self, it’s coffee from now on!
I got into the car and drove away still thinking how judgemental I was about him but I carried on and done my shopping and the bits and pieces I had to do.
Driving back out of town, I spotted his trolley of belongings but he wasn’t there with it. Then I spotted him coming out of the Coffee shop with a cup in his hand (probably not tea). I smiled to myself.
On my way home, I thought about a lot of things. What if this was my son? How would I want t people to treat him? Would I be happy with them judging him? Would I want people to help him? This man is a human being like the rest of us. He has feelings. He has needs, wants, regrets and disappointments just like the rest of us. But what he doesn’t have is a place to call home. A bed to sleep in at night. And I am ashamed that I judged him for this.
Tonight, give your kids an extra cuddle. Fall asleep next to them if that’s what they want. Read them an extra book in your beautiful, warm, safe home because who knows what’s around the corner for all of us.

Happy sleeping, no matter where you call home.
Emma Pollard
Then Goodnight Nurse