Because of where we live, and how we invest our lives, my kids ask me some really curly questions. They drop some real shockers! - leaving me awkwardly grasping for an explanation that will be age appropriate.
For example, the other day, a guy we know was sharing about his work investigating sex trafficking here in Cambodia. At the end, he said, "Oh and by the way, if you see me out at night in a place I shouldn't be, don't acknowledge me unless I acknowledge you. I might be working."
And then he jokingly added, "and don't phone up my wife - she already knows!"
Everyone laughed at the image he was conjuring in our heads - a solid, straightlaced Christian guy, hanging out in a seedy bar somewhere, trying not to be seen.
Later that day, my kids wanted an explanation.
"Um, well...." and I did my best to explain the broad brush-strokes of trafficking and prostitution and the efforts that some folks are making to combat this violence against women.
It reminded me of our days in the Downtown Eastside, where we would regularly step around someone crashed out on the sidewalk, or even our front step. Their questions gave me an opportunity to talk about the sadness of addiction.
Here in Cambodia, they have questions about poverty and injustice, corruption and oppression.
They see the reality of environmental degradation first-hand because there is an open sewer near our house, filled with trash. And the roads flood worse every year because of illegal logging further upcountry.
They see the reality of inequality and poverty because our neighbours are dirt poor, and the neighbours' kids have hardly any toys or books.
They see the reality of drug addiction because there is a man with vomit on his short lying on the ground as we walk home from the park, and our good friend is detoxing on our couch - clearly in pain.
And I wouldn't have it any other way. For my kids that is.
I feel a deep sense of privilege in being there with them, helping them understand something of the world we live in, and the hope that Jesus offers.
I get to explain, in easy language, what the Kingdom of God looks like when it begins to break through on earth.
I get to introduce them gently to this fallen, broken world - and help them interpret that world through the teachings of Jesus.
Consider the alternative:
Our kids are immersed in consumerism, and never see the environmental impacts of the choices they make.
They compare themselves to kids at school who have MORE toys, MORE things, and are still not satisfied.
The only exposure they have to drug and alcohol abuse is through Hollywood celebrities, who glamorize drug use.
And so on, and so on...
No thanks. We'll stick with the real world.
[No children were harmed in the making of this blog post.]