I was driving home from work a week or so ago, and I saw a guy walking down the sidewalk, hand-in-hand with a three or four-year-old girl. And I couldn't help but see the look on his face.
If you don't have daughters, you don't know the look. In fact, only really men get the look: it's pretty much reserved for daddies. It's the smile you get when you're walking with your little girl and she's chatting about something or other, and you have an irrational happiness from being around your little girl. I suppose there's a little pride mixed in there too.
I have three little girls: they're not so little as that little girl was anymore; but they're little girls. I've personally smiled that smile many times. I know it well.
So this guy and his little girl were walking down the street: not the worst part of town, but far from the best. I assume they had just gotten off the bus, although I don't know that for sure. But the way he was dressed, the location, and their mode of transport all combined to indicate they weren't terribly well off. I could be wrong, of course.
I've often wondered why people have kids precisely when they're least prepared for it: young, inexperienced, and generally poor. That's changing somewhat as people are starting families later---and we certainly started younger than most---but it's generally true that having and diapering babies is for the young. And the young certainly seem to be least prepared to deal with that sort of thing.
But when I saw that guy's face, it suddenly struck me that the timing is perfect: an obviously poor guy in a less-than-desirable part of town doesn't have a lot to cheer him up. A pretty, chatty little girl is perfect.