Making Time: No Bed Tonight
A night of questions with some difficult answers

“Daddy, why are you sleeping outside tonight? Won’t you be cold and scared?”

I was flattening a cardboard box and unrolling my sleeping bag in our backyard, getting ready to sleep outside to raise awareness and funds for youth homelessness. I thought I could help others. Maybe gain a little perspective. I didn’t realize Brandon would grill me about it the second I came back in the door.

I was participating in an annual fundraiser for Covenant House. Normally, we sleep out in a large group but couldn’t this year because of the pandemic. So Brandon watched as I set up, and the questions began. He asked what I was doing and why I was doing it. He asked to help. He asked to join me sleeping out. The questions just kept coming, and for some reason, I was totally not ready for them.

“Daddy, we need to make sure you stay warm,” he said. I told him I was setting up to sleep outside because not all boys and girls, or mommies and daddies, have their own bed. I was going to sleep out to try to help make sure they do. Brandon’s eyes got wide, and I could see him trying to understand what I was saying. He thought about it and asked. “But why don’t they have beds?”


Talk about not being ready. I was definitely not prepared for all the follow-up questions. I hadn’t even thought about how to explain this all to him. I was more worried about saying the wrong thing. I didn’t want to make him scared about not having his own bed, but I also wanted him to begin to appreciate all of the things we do have, including something as basic as a bed to sleep in.

I tried to change the subject and hoped he would forget about his questions, but Brandon was having none of it and asked me, “Then where do they sleep if they don’t have a bed, and how can they bring their stuffed animals?”

That got me. He was so innocent. I just wasn’t ready for his questions – they were too good for me. I kept trying to figure out why I felt so unprepared for this chat. I tried to keep my cool even though I felt completely lost. I told him people try to find some place to stay warm until they can find a home. “Maybe they can stay at our house then,” he said to me.

Brandon and I were still talking in the kitchen when we started to hear the rain. That brought a whole new round of questions. “Daddy, how will you stay dry? And how do the other little boys and girls stay dry if they don’t have a bed and home?” This time, I had no good answer. I knew I was going to get wet, and I didn’t want to lie to him. I said that unless they could find something to sleep under (which for me was the patio table), they would get wet.

The next morning, I woke up to come back in the house and found Brandon was already waiting at the door. He said he wanted to give me a hug and check to see if I was ok. I had barely slept, was cold and was struggling, but Brandon was ready with more questions. “Daddy, what are we going to do tonight to help someone find a bed?”

That was pretty cool to hear him ask. I knew he didn’t really understand what I was doing or even why, but he learned something from my night outside, and now he wanted to help. So I may have stumbled through the questions, but maybe I got something right.

Read more Making Time. 

January 2022
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