Long Island Parent Talk

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Son gets the picture

Nashville, December 2012

Nashville, December 2012 (Credit: Newsday photo / Valerie Kellogg)

My son earned a new nickname over the holidays: Conviction Boy.

Harrison and I were walking down Nashville’s loud and boisterous Broadway on a recent Friday night, as live music and even livelier revelers spilled on to the neon-lit sidewalks, when we passed a young girl playing drums on the ice-cold concrete. Her brother sat next to her on one side and her mother on her other.

We both took notice, especially of the mother, who seemed to be crying. According to the sign she held, she and her children were homeless. Some passersby dropped money into their jar. As we are accustomed to doing as New Yorkers, Harrison and I kept walking.

Somewhere behind us my husband, Richard, followed.

Over breakfast the next day, Harrison looked through my husband’s cellphone to look at photos from the trip. He handed it back to him.

“I deleted a photo,” Harrison told Richard.

It was a photo of the homeless family, and Richard wasn’t happy. He felt it was wrong to destroy someone’s property and told Harrison he lost the privilege of using the phone.

But Harrison wouldn’t back down. “It was wrong to take the picture, and I don’t care what you think,” he told Richard. Normally such talk wouldn’t be allowed in our house, but he spoke so passionately about his beliefs that Richard and I, without even discussing it, both let it go.

I later tried to come up with an analogy that might make the situation cleared to Harrison -- even though some support gun control, that doesn't mean they should ever enter a gun owner’s house and destroy a firearm. Harrison seemed to understand that.

And in private, so as to not belittle Richard in any way, I explained that although the street people may have been buskers, as he thought, they also appeared to be in crisis, which he didn't know. That's the part that upset Harrison, who thought they were being exploited for a mere Facebook photo.

For me, it was a photo into my boy’s soul.

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