We took the kids to Eastern Market the other day to spend some time rummaging around the six-block public market and pick up some fresh produce. It's fun to see all of the different vendors selling their wares like vegetables, flowers, jams, kale salad or grass-fed beef. We've been to smaller farmers' markets closer to home but nothing compares to the enormity of Eastern Market.
The boys were amazed at all of the graffiti and vacant buildings we passed along the way. We saw beggars, prostitutes, damaged buildings and lots of trash. It's embarrassing how much trash litters the streets. It's a far cry from our manicured little subdivision in our uncluttered little suburb. But, it's important every once in awhile to step out of our normal routine and shake things up a bit and the boys were a bit shook up by our trip downtown.
We decided to take them to Slows Bar-B-Q for lunch because its Yardbird sandwich is a finalist in the Travel Channel series "Adam Richman's Best Sandwich in America." A beggar on the street outside of the restaurant wanted to shake hands with the boys but they looked at me with a wide-eyed "is this OK?" look of concern. They didn't know what to do so I said they could shake hands and later Christopher asked me why I said they could talk to him when "he's a stranger." I explained that they don't talk to strangers when I'm not around but it's OK if I'm standing right there and supervising the conversation.
Our lunch was outstanding. We are definitely going back to Slows because the food was that good. I would drive to Detroit just to have lunch at Slows. It was packed at 2:00 on a Saturday afternoon so it's obviously earned its reputation.
When we left the restaurant the same beggar was on the street. He held out his hand again and said, "education" repeatedly to the boys. They were confused and looked at me for clarification because they couldn't understand what he was saying. He of course asked for money as we walked by but we told him to have a good day and kept on walking to the car.
When I told the boys he was saying "education" they asked why. I told them he was suggesting they stay in school and get a good education so they don't end up a beggar on the street like he is. We probably should have given him money because the look on the boys' faces was priceless. His one word, "education," had more of an effect on them than any of my many parental diatribes about doing well in school.
It took some time for everything to sink in, but the boys were reflective of their day spent in the "D." They saw things they don't normally see in their neighborhoods. They realized they live in a nice house and have nice parents who do nice things for them.
When they get a little mouthy or are feeling a little entitled I think we'll take a little trip downtown to some of the seedier, more graffiti-laden areas to see how the other half lives. I"ll get another chance to taste the best sandwich in America while the boys learn more about being thankful for what they have.