Today the topic of drugs was unexpectedly introduced to my 4yo

We’ve been a little uneasy in the neighborhood lately. Gentrification and absurd home prices are pushing a lot of strange and new crime into our area, three halfway houses are in operation within walking distance and have been a police magnet lately, a known thief with a huge record lives in a house we can see (well, he will when he posts bail,) and there’s a couple of car thieves living three streets over (currently waiting trial on three of their last operations,) with a criminal record list that actually is more than the online service will display.

So basically we watch out for things out of the ordinary.

Today as the family exited the house in 17 degree weather there was a man in the road not exactly walking and not exactly paying attention and did I mention he was walking into oncoming traffic in the road and people were having to drive around him?

Something I’ve learned from running into a heroin user near my work about every two weeks on Fridays (payday?) during summer at my job is that the guy was messed up from the floor up, probably oxy or heroin.

Below freezing shuffling in traffic, not particularly responsive to anything and me with a kid I called the police to come and do a welfare check. I’m not scared he was going to steal anything, I don’t think he was violent, just that he was going to get splattered and probably needed to be taken somewhere warm so he didn’t come down with frostbite.

Maggie picked up words in the conversation which lead to that I believed that the man was on drugs. She’s never heard of drugs.

Teaching moment?

I asked her if she understood medicine. She said yes. We talked about types of medicine. There’s daddy’s allergy medicine which keeps me from sneezing and helps me breathe. There’s medicine to take pain away while your body heals because you just don’t need the pain. She understood this. We talked about her children’s medicine that stopped fevers and helped her cough.

We discussed how sometimes people use medicine for purposes other than what was intended. I told her sometimes people took medicine to forget that they’re sad or to forget their pain, forget themselves, to wander through the day sleepwalking.

She’d never heard of sleepwalking. I told her we’d talk about that later.

I told her I suspected that guy had taken drugs, I had called the police to come and talk with him and get him somewhere warm whether he was on drugs or not. Not particularly good to be wandering into oncoming traffic in any event. Could have been alzheimer’s for all I knew.

She’d never heard of that, I told her we’d talk about that later.

She asked about why people would want to forget themselves and this became an interesting conversation about imagination, not being satisfied with where you are at in life, and that people doing these things have a reason, even if that reason is wrong.

She asked if he was bad. I told her I didn’t know. It was complicated. She hoped he wasn’t bad. I did too.

She decided he needed something to look forward to that was more interesting than sleepwalking. I agreed.