Last night at dinner, Ella, my six year old, asked “Do grown ups ever lie?”
“Yes,” I said. “There are grown ups who do all kinds of bad things.”
“Do they steal?”
“Sometimes,” I answered. “But it’s wrong.”
Zoe, newly 5, piped in. “Well, sometimes it’s not wrong to steal.”
“When is that?” I asked.
“If you’re poor, and you don’t have any money, then it’s ok to steal.”
“Is that true, Mama?” asked Ella, who prefers her lines neatly drawn, whether on coloring pages or ethical debates.
“I don’t know,” I said. “I don’t really know the answer to that question.”
“Papa?” she implored.
“It’s never right to steal,” answered Keith. “But sometimes, if your kids are hungry and you don’t have any food, you might have to do it anyway.”
“So they aren’t bad, right?” persisted Zoe.
None of us knew quite what to say.
Coincidentally, right after dinner, we set out on the Extracycle to distribute bags for the annual Stamp Out Hunger food drive. I pedaled us around the neighborhood, while they ran up to each doorstep leaving a bright orange bag with a list of foods most needed by our local food pantry. This is an annual tradition for us, and one they really look forward to.
On the bike, I thought to say to my kids “We do this to make sure no one ever has to make a hard decision like whether to steal or feed their children. ”
From my mouth to God’s ears.