I may have mentioned once or twice that we bought a house. A house a realtor would say "needs some TLC," which is really code for "will require more hours of back-breaking labor than you can possibly imagine." I seriously spent seven hours on my hands a knees this Sunday scraping paint splatters and peanut butter and ketchup and gum and jelly and heaven-knows-what-else off the floors. And that was just to clean BEFORE we could start renovations. The only thing worse than cleaning up your own messes is cleaning up someone else's!
|Photo by Niall Kennedy via Flikr|
Foreclosures have become so common that they have just started to feel like a fact of life. Until this weekend.
I was outside washing out a bucket, and the little second-grade girl who lives next door came over to introduce herself. She used to be best friends with the little girl who lived in our house. They used to have sleepovers, hang out in the hot tub, feed the fish in the fish pond. And she told me, "Yeah, the bank took my friend's house away and made her move to a different town."
All the sudden, I had a window into the very real heartache that people - mothers, fathers, spouses, children - go through on the other side of the foreclosure process. Of course, I have no way of knowing exactly what the former owners of our house told their children about what was happening, but filtered down through the mouths of eight-year-olds, the reality had a very clear villain: the big bad bank.
Now, I'm sure as heck not excusing the banks or the role they played in this financial mess our country found ourselves in; I'm more than familiar with the shady lending practices and sometimes outright lies. But they weren't the only ones to blame, either. Realtors and investors convinced people (and often themselves) that there was nowhere to go but up forever. People borrowed more money than they should and signed up for loans they didn't understand. And the reality when you borrow money is that if you don't pay it back, you don't own what you bought.
I pray that I'm never in a position where I have to explain to my child why our home is being foreclosed on, but it's something thousands of families in my community have undoubtedly done. And it got me thinking, what would I say to my son? I hope I'd tell the truth: That mom and dad can't afford to make the payments on the house, so we can't live there any more. Or maybe I'd be a big enough person to use it as a teachable moment about borrowing money and using credit. But maybe I wouldn't be. Maybe I'd be angry or depressed or embarrassed, and I'd find someone to blame. Maybe I'd paint my own picture of the villain.
One thing is clear, though. At least here in Nevada, I think there will be a whole generation of kids whose lives have been changed by the big bad banks, whether through personal experience or something they heard from a friend. I wonder what that will mean to them when they're adults.
What do you think? How would you explain to a child what foreclosure is?