But a day like that is easy given what she’s seen in her one year on this earth.
At 2 months old, Kai lived on the streets with her dad. They bedded down in bus shelters, abandoned cars and on friends’ couches.
They finally — thanks to help from the Washington Legal Clinic for the Homeless — landed a spot at the old D.C. General Hospital, which is serving the city’s ever-growing population of homeless families. They’ve been waiting eight months for transitional housing.
The shelter is safer, certainly. But Jordan, 45, is forever questioned, challenged and probed because it’s just him and his little girl.
When he goes to check on the status of a child-care voucher, or a housing spot, or even at the doctor, he gets the same question: “Where’s the baby’s mama at?”
“Why don’t they ask all those mamas that every time? I don’t hear everyone always asking them: ‘Where baby daddy at?’ Nah-aw. But they ask me. Every. Single. Time,” he says, unleashing.
When he can get away with it, he rolls his one good eye at them and keeps rocking Kai or straightening her pink and pinker outfits.
For those who hold his fate in their hands — the clerk at a voucher program or a case manager — he carries around a white plastic H&M shopping bag with all her documents inside: birth certificate, health records, doctors’ bills, every prenatal visit receipt he could get from her mama.
And he’s got the paperwork from the drug rehab that Kai’s mama was sent to. And the one she was kicked out of. And the court papers for her drug charges, her mental health evaluations, her court no-shows. That’s just so he can prove that Kai’s mama isn’t really around, waiting with a diaper bag and a mother’s gentle touch.
Kai was unplanned and unexpected. The couple met at an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting and bonded over tough times rather than hopes for a bright future.
“I had my small troubles with the law. Minor stuff that was all about growing up to be a man in D.C.,” he told me. A court search didn’t show anything for Juan L. Jordan. He said the last time he was in trouble it had to do with his drinking and it was in 1993.
The court records I searched, based on the mama’s name from all those documents, backed up everything he said.
I met Jordan in December, when I was interviewing folks on whether they had any regrets about having kids.
Jordan didn’t really want to talk to me, but he obliged. He said he wouldn’t change anything, even though he and Kai were living in a shelter.
“Nah. What else would I be doing that means anything?” he replied. “You just change your priorities. And now, she’s my priority.”
Some readers were moved by his story and sent me cards to deliver to him.