Monthly Archives: April 2004


Cora likes The Boohbahs. It’s a kids show on PBS that involves a lot of exercising and running around, and Cora loves to dance and run around right along with it. She started slow at first, but now she tells me, “Daddy, dance!” when Humbah, Zumbah, Zing Zing Zingbah, Jumbah, and Jingbah start running around.

The best physical description of the Boohbahs from a news organization comes from the AP via CNN: gumdrops clad in Astroturf. My impression is that the Boohbahs look like visitors from a planet where the dominant species had evolved from shag rug and then grew exceedingly obese and sparkly.

Cora, however, does not judge by appearances. The Boohbahs make fun sounds and do fun dances and have a cute little dog named Fido. And, except for the carpet fiber exterior, she’s becoming one of them.

Less Than

I’m on the Mercy Committee at my church and we deal with requests for assistance from people in the surrounding community. Some of the requests are made by honest people with legitimate needs. Some of the requests are not. We are rarely sure which is which. I’ve been doing this for something over a year now and I’ve never become comfortable with the fact that sometimes we have to tell people in need that the Mercy Committee has decided not to have mercy on them. At least not in the financial regard that they were hoping for. But you may help yourself to some nonperishable food items from our pantry.

We get lots of financial requests from people who have gotten shut-off notices from the power company. They will lose their power — their heat — unless they come up with X dollars by the end of the month. Can we please give them X dollars?

Sometimes there are good reasons not to give them X dollars. Some people scam well meaning charities. Some people are in an unsustainable situation where their expenses excede their income. We want to help avert a catastrophe, not just postpone the inevitable.

But no matter why mom or dad is asking for the money, they often have kids in the home that are going to be effected too. Think of those kids for a minute. Think of the completely false lessons a school-aged child might learn from living in a home without power. Imagine how they would feel at school knowing that for some reason they don’t have electricity at their house. The other kids talk about TV shows and Gameboy and microwave popcorn. These kids have all of that stuff too, and light switches and a thermostat, but none of that stuff will come on for them anymore. Are they somehow less than the other kids they go to school with? They can’t bring a lunch meat sandwich to school and they can’t have milk on their cereal in the mornings. How many days do you think they might still use a bowl and a spoon to eat dry cereal before realizing that, without the milk, there’s no reason not to just eat it from the box by handfuls? “Is this because of my parents? Should I be ashamed of my parents? Should I be ashamed to live like this?”

No! No, you should not be ashamed! No, this isn’t your fault. You are not less than your peers; those with more than you are not better than you; bad stuff happens sometimes but it does not define your worth; there are plenty of people with big hearts who hate that your parent’s financial troubles are going to wreak havoc with your self esteem. But all that said, I’m still not going to help your parents with their electric bill.

I hate this job.