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There’s No Watering Down This Important Lesson

, , , , , | Friendly | November 25, 2021

Growing up, I can remember having more sleepovers than nights I slept alone. I thought I was super popular. What I didn’t know then was that my parents were providing food and shelter to some of my less fortunate classmates.

One evening, when I was eight or so, one of my classmates was over, doing homework, when we got hungry. I was allowed to use the stove under supervision.

Me: “Mom, can we make grilled cheese and tomato soup?”

Classmate: “Yeah! I’ll help.”

Mom: “Okay, let’s go.”

I started buttering the bread and putting the cheese on, while [Classmate] opened a can of condensed tomato soup. He dumped the contents in a pan and then filled the can with water. 

Me: “[Classmate], what are you doing?”

Classmate: “Making soup.”

Me: “With water?”

Mom: “Honey, let him make soup his way. It’s okay, [Classmate].”

[Classmate] dumped the first can of water in the pan and then filled it a second time.

Me: “Mom, what—”

Mom: “[My Name], we are trying something different tonight.”

Classmate: “This is how my mom makes soup.”

Dad: “Do you have a big family, [Classmate]?”

Classmate: “Yeah, I have six brothers and sisters.”

I’m an only child.

Me: “What?! Why?”

Dad: “That’s a lot of siblings! What do you like to play?”

[Classmate] pours yet another can of water in the soup.

Classmate: “Oh, we have Monopoly and cards and stuff.”

Me: “[Classmate]! It’s one can of milk, not—”

Mom: “[My Name]. Stop.”

Dad: “[Classmate] is our guest. We will eat what he wants to eat.”

Me: “Okay.”

[Classmate] ate three sandwiches and two bowls of soup. I remember wondering how such a small boy could eat so much, but my parents never batted an eye and I knew better than to say anything.

It took me years to understand how privileged I was. [Classmate] stayed over a few more times before I realized why he was there. When I did, I stopped complaining about his soup and thanked him for sharing his family recipe with me.