A Day in the City Well Worth the Investment

Recently, we went downtown (Chicago) for a fun summer afternoon and evening.  With the weather seasonably warm that day, instead of scorching hot as it has been on other days in the summer, it was a great time to go into the city. My goal was to do it while being reasonable with spending, but I wasn’t going to be cheap about it. Family time was the plan.

It turned out to be great. We did a lot of great things, and my main interest was providing my 8 year old daughter with some experiences she can remember and learn from. We first went to the Art Institute, getting to see some fantastic exhibits. There were paintings from Rembrandt, Monet, Renoir, and others.  Then, we went to a couple of other landmarks in town, before eating dinner taking a cruise of the Chicago River.

Great stuff, great memories!

The whole thing cost about $85, excluding driving costs (but including $28 parking!). Pretty good for a full day downtown. My daughter got some culture, got to see the hustle and bustle of downtown (we live in the suburbs), and had fun. What more could you ask for!

Well, one of the other things that she noticed downtown was the small number of homeless people. Now to me it was a small number of people, but to her it was eye opening.

Each time we walked by a homeless person sitting on the ground, with a sign and a cup for money, she wanted to stop and read what they had written. She was stunned to see grown ups looking so helpless. I could see it in her eyes,  just feeling bad about what she saw. She would go quiet for a minute or two as we walked away. Admittedly, she did ask me to give them money but I didn’t. It’s not that I don’t believe in that – rather, I absolutely do, as I’ve discussed here a few times.  Instead, I told her that I do give once in a while, but we just can’t do it all the time.

At the end of the evening, I asked her what she remembered about the day, and she talked excitedly about some of the things we did and saw. She was truly excited about the experience, which was cool!  However, she also quietly mentioned the homeless people she saw, and how that wasn’t fun to see.

We then got into a discussion about homeless people. She asked me some questions about why those people were homeless, how come they didn’t have anything to eat, and how come nobody was helping them.  I did my very best with the discussion. These are hard things for some kids to grasp, especially if young and not usually exposed to such harsh realities.

She then spoke up more, and proclaimed that when she gets older, she would help all the homeless people she saw. She said that it’s not fair that people should be starving, especially older people, and that she’d help some people when she got older. Further, she mentioned that she might spend all her money if she had to help people in need.

Now, while I don’t want her to ever give away all her money, I’m thrilled that at such a young age (8), she’s selfless enough to be willing to put helping others at such a high priority. She truly cares and is genuinely willing to help, which delighted me. I’ll admit that when I was younger I felt bad for such homeless people I saw, but I never talked about giving away all my money like she did. Not that I had much, of course, nor does she for that matter:) But the generosity is great to see, and I’m glad that there’s been an improvement from one generation to the next.

All in all, it was a great day. Fantastic memories, and a great learning experience!


  1. Elizabeth says

    Have you been to the Federal Reserve museum downtown? It’s free, and surprisingly fascinating. My son was 8 when we went last year and all of us enjoyed it.

  2. says

    I remember visiting the museums when I was a child in New York. Getting off the elevator in the Natural History Museum and seeing the dinosaur display was unbelievable for 7-8 year old. Your articles reminded me of those childhood experiences to the UN, Statue of Liberty and Empire State Building. I don’t think I will ever forget it.

  3. says

    It is great to see her wanting to help instead of feeling repulsive. Innocence and charitable mind is awesome. Hope it stays with her (to a healthy level).

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