Do You Know a Family Like This? … [a tall tale for 2012]

“So there’s this family next door … nice people, seven kids …”
“ Seven kids? That’s quite a lot.”
“Yeah, I don’t know whether they planned it that way, it’s not like I ever asked, anyway they seem to have enough to go round. Anyway, it’s a bit weird really cos they have these seven kids, right. And one of them, the little boy, Johnnie, he’s got some kind of disease or some medical problem, he’s not well.”
“Sounds harsh. Must be difficult for the whole family.”
“Yeah. And then they’ve got this girl, Sara, she’s always looking pale and she’s much shorter and skinnier than the rest of them.”
“Is she ill? Is it the same thing as Johnnie’s got?”
“Well no I don’t think so. They said it wasn’t that she’s ill at all. Just that she doesn’t eat enough or something. But it’s not anorexia or anything like that. Anyway, this family, they need money for little Johnnie’s treatment, his medication, and they say it’s curable what he’s got, he needs some medication every day but it’s totally curable.”
“That must be a weight off their mind then. It’s not like he’s got some incurable illness or cancer of something. I know a family who had a kid with cancer, horrible, nothing they could do to cure it, just try to be there for the kid and make sure she has a happy life.”
“ Well yes it’s not like a cancer, it’s curable, it’s quite a common thing apparently and it can be cured with pretty basic drugs, antibiotics or something like that.”
“The meds must be expensive though, every day?”
“Luckily not really. They’re not a poor family. The meds are totally affordable for them. But here’s the weird thing.”
“What?”
“Get this. Last month, one of the other kids had a birthday. Jack. He’s doing well at school, he’s clever, he works hard, he’s a lovely kid, really kind. So they bought him an amazing trip for his birthday. He’s curious by nature, he likes meeting people, travelling, seeing new places, trying out new things.”
“He’s going to love his present then.”
“Yep, he’s there right now. Diving off the Great Barrier Reef or something. Anyway, that’s not the weird thing. The weird thing is, the family bought this trip, and then the Mum was telling me all about it, how she was so proud of Jack’s achievements and he’d worked so hard at school and got good grades and he totally deserved this big present. But then she said, we’re a bit worried about Johnnie, cos he’s not getting any better.”
“Oh that’s stressful for her. It must be terrible to be a Mum and see your child ill. Poor woman.”
“Well yeah, but get this. Then she says: “We stopped giving Johnnie his medication because we needed to save the money.” And I was like: “What?” And she said yes, they didn’t get Johnnie his drugs, his antibiotics this month, and now he’s got worse because he can’t fight the disease without them. So he’s really poorly.”
“But hang on, didn’t they just buy his brother a massive present?”
“Yes! I was a bit confused at this point but you know, you don’t like to ask. I wasn’t going to imply that she’d spent little Johnnie’s meds money on that holiday.”
“Well yeah, she would have thought you were mad. Maybe they messed up on the finances or something and couldn’t get the holiday money back once they realised. So did you find out what’s happening?”
“ Well … it’s a bit awkward. She says to me “I know it’s a shame that little Johnnie has to get sick again, and we have to save money on Sara’s food so we only feed her once a day, that’s why she’s so skinny…”
“WHAT? They’re not feeding her??”
“The Mum says they can’t afford it.”
“They bought the other kid a massive present last month!”
“I know! She said that the brother had really earnt his trip, they’d planned it for ages, he’s really enjoying it. She said – she actually said this – “it’s a shame about Johnnie and Sara, I feel really bad about it, I wish things were different, but really Jack wanted that trip and we’d said he could have it, plenty of his friends also had similar presents, so we didn’t want him to miss out.”
“I cannot believe that. How can a family do that? How could Jack go on the trip knowing it was costing money from Johnnie’s meds and Sara’s food?”
“I don’t know. They’ve just worked it out that each child is separate and what happens to one isn’t relevant to the others or something. Something about not feeling guilty about it and it’s no one’s fault really, life isn’t fair, that’s just how things have turned out.”
“Well yeah, life isn’t fair, but that’s ridiculous.”
“I think so too. Especially when I found out that the money for Johnnie’s meds and Sara’s food – what she needs just to stay healthy and grow properly, I mean she’s seriously looking ill, all the rest of the family are strapping lads and lasses and she’s … well … she looks a bit … stunted? – all the money they needed was just the cost of ONE WEEK of Jack’s trip. He’s going for three months.”
“You’re kidding me. You. Are. Kidding. Me.”
“I am not. So basically, Jack would have just had a slightly shorter holiday, and Johnnie and Sara would be absolutely fine.”
“But that’s bonkers.”
“I know. How can a family do that?”

The aliens sighed, and looked across at the neighbouring little blue planet, wondering what kind of family these humans – with their 7 billion children – really were.

Dear friends, if you liked my little story, please pass it on 🙂

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This entry was posted in democracy, Education, Entrepreneurship, Environment, ethics, Globalisation, Impact Investing, kindness, Parenting, Philosophy, Social Entrepreneurship, Society, sustainability. Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Do You Know a Family Like This? … [a tall tale for 2012]

  1. Could not have said it better. Tales need illustrations, folklore, poetry… yes, how about a rhyming version?

  2. will Smith says:

    nice story…

  3. I’ve been thinking (in the shower thinking for what it’s worth) – how about diffusing it to and through peotry groups and amateurs open it to interpretations…?

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