Sometimes you have to teach your children hard lessons about the world, and sometimes they have to teach them to you.

For instance, the other day we were in the park, and there was a large plastic trash can chained to a pavilion. Clara asked me why someone would have to chain up a trash can.

“Oh…” I said sadly, “It’s a terrible thing really, but people will steal anything, unfortunately. Even trash cans. Someone could drive up and throw that trash can in the back of their truck and just drive off with it. Kids could take it and throw it in the woods thinking they are funny and make a huge mess. People could even take it out into the field here and play on it and end up breaking it somehow. Sometimes people are just bad people.” I frowned.

She stuffed her hands into her pockets and seemed to be only halfway listening, still lost in thought. “Actually,” she said after several seconds of staring at the trash can, “I think it’s really so that the wind doesn’t blow it away.” And then she flashed me a quick forgiving smile and slowly walked off.

I looked back and forth between her and the trash can a few times. “Huh…” I said quietly watching as she started to run, hands still inside her pockets, back to the tire swing. “Huh…” I said even quieter, looking back at the lonely gray trash can chained to a pillar in the park.

Maybe what I said was true though. Maybe there really are bad people in the world. But maybe it’s the good ones that don’t assume everyone else is bad.