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At the park the other morning, I pulled out Portia’s snack bag as it had been about 1.5 hours from the time she had...

At the park the other morning, I pulled out Portia’s snack bag as it had been about 1.5 hours from the time she had breakfast, and I knew she would be hungry. Brian and I had just picked up some pastries to nibble on between breakfast and lunch as well.

I had hardly started to unzip the snack bag when 2 small children, I would say around 4 and 2 years old, came and stood silently about an arm’s length from me. As I was sitting on a bench, I was almost face-to-face with the two kids.

I did my usual “Hi… what’s your name? This (waving my hand in my daughter’s direction) is Porta. Say hi Portia.” The little girl (the eldest of the two) mumbled something in the softest and quietest voice I have ever heard and all I caught was ‘Switzerland’. The little boy- her brother?- said nothing. He gave me a little half smile but I quickly realised that his eyes were locked firmly on my hands, which were struggling to open a package of seaweed to give to Portia.

Something felt different.

This wasn’t a typical encounter with playground kids. There’s usually a lot more talking, reaching, and interacting. There’s usually a lot more smiling, because the kids are at the park and that’s a happy place, right?! There’s usually even the out-of-breath-from-running-so-hard requests of “can I have some?”. A curious little toddler wanting in on another curious little toddler’s snacks.

These kids weren’t just ‘wanting in’ on snack time. Their eyes were begging my hands to drop the food into their tiny little palms.

I quickly scanned the area to see where their parents were, so I could do the silent acknowledgment (that I have both given and received multiple times over the past few years) that their children were there with me and not to worry, because I am ‘a good guy’. No one was watching them and no one was watching us- total strangers- about to feed their children. No one was rushing over to us to do the polite jig we parents do in these situations: “Oh my goodness. Sorry! Portia, come, we have our own snacks in our bag. Say thank you anyways.”

I placed a piece of seaweed in the little girl’s hand and she turned and ran.  The little boy was still staring at my hands.  I followed the girl with my eyes all the way to the frail old man sitting a ways away from us.  She gave him the piece of seaweed and he ate it.  He didn’t ask where it came from and he didn’t look around to see who had given it to her.  He didn’t care… or, it didn’t matter.

The little boy had moved so close to me, he was almost in my lap.  The little girl ran back to me and I gave them each their own piece of seaweed.  They had never tasted it before, I could tell.  They hesitated for not even a split second before both taking slow bites followed by slow chews.

Something was different.

If you have young children, think of what it looks like when you give them a piece of food.  If you don’t have young children, picture what the Cookie Monster does when he eats and that is what most toddlers/preschoolers do when they are given a snack.  Then, they run off to keep playing.  Because that is what you do at the park.

That is not what these two gentle souls were doing at the park.

The difference was ripping my heart to pieces.

It all came crashing down on me and I knew for sure.  I quickly offered the girl Portia’s plum, without saying anything to her or to Portia about why I was giving away her snack.  Eyes closed, the little girl took a bite.  While the juice dribbled down the side of her hand, she extended her arm and gave her little brother a bite. Slow bites.  Slow chews. My heart in my full stomach.

We gave the two children all of the snacks we had.

At that moment, I wanted to give them everything I owned… and a hug. Nothing would have been enough. I didn’t want to leave.  A thousand thoughts were running through my head.  When did they eat last?  When will they eat next?  How is this happening to these poor little children… and thousands of children in B.C. alone.  We are so fortunate to be able to feed our children!

I am not ignorant.  I know of the hunger struggles right here in our backyard and all over the world.  I have volunteered with at-risk youth and underprivileged children for the past 13 years.  I watch the news and have friends who devote themselves in incredible ways… and I hear the stories they tell.

But it was the silent plea of those two little ones yesterday that sent Perspective and Reality crashing down on me.

As I drove home with a heavy heart, wondering what I can do to help, from the backseat my 2.5 year old said, “Mommy,  I shared my snacks with that boy and that girl.”

We had helped.  Maybe just a little, but that little may have been just enough, for just that moment.

I hope things will someday be different.


Jessica Blumel

Nice to meet you! I'm Jessica a.k.a North Shore Mama. This site was born out of my love for my daughters and the desire to share my motherhood journey with fellow moms. I believe we're all in this craziness called 'parenthood' together and North Shore Mama is my way of reaching out to anyone who needs a laugh, a cry or dinner inspiration. Thank you so much for reading!

  • Cher

    July 10, 2013 #1 Author

    Oh my heart. That made me cry. I feel so much for every child since having my son and I wish I could envelop them all with food and love. I don’t even know what I’d do in a situation like that… what is there to do? Ok, I can’t stop crying…


  • Carolyn

    July 10, 2013 #2 Author

    Wow. This is so heartbreaking! Thank you for the reminder about how blessed we are!!!


  • Jackie

    July 10, 2013 #3 Author

    Wow. Heartbreaking. I can totally feel that kick in the gut as I look around at how lucky we are. I hope that somehow they get help. And I think Portia learned that sharing is a gift. For both sides.


  • Jen

    July 10, 2013 #4 Author

    Tears. Such a beautiful and heart wrenching story all at once. Portia and Madeleine are very lucky to have parents to show them the gift of giving. <3


  • Jen

    July 10, 2013 #5 Author

    Oops. That should have said ‘parents THAT show them’…


  • Eschelle Westwood

    July 10, 2013 #6 Author

    awww man that is heartbreaking… so hard to see things like that. The poor little things, that would make me frequent that park with food all the time. This is one mama that will be forever packing EXTRA snacks whenever I go out…


  • Harriet

    July 10, 2013 #7 Author

    We have a refugee family living in a basement suite next door – a grandmother, two high school kids and two toddlers who seem to be the eldest daughter’s kids but are being for the most part being take care of by the grandmother. So no one is working. I tried to give them clothes as my son is about two years older than the little boy but they wouldn’t take them. Not sure where I’m going here. I guess it’s good for our kids to bear witness to poverty and get some perspective on their/our own lives of abundance.


  • Amanda

    July 10, 2013 #8 Author

    Wow. Amongst all the picky eating, wasting food, and mealtime struggles we face with young kids, it’s easy to forget what a privilege it is to even have those concerns. Food is love, in essence, and I cannot imagine how hard it must be on families to struggle with providing such a basic need for their children.


  • Katherine G

    July 12, 2013 #9 Author

    It was so sweet of you to help them. I know they probably appreciated it more than you know. I think it was so awesome that you recognized that their need was different than the needs of other children. I don’t think many people would have been able to tell the difference like you were able to.


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