It’s early in the afternoon on a cold, wintry day, and Jeneyah McDonald is preparing a dinner of baked chicken with baby lima beans and rice for her family.
The Flint resident moves smoothly around her small kitchen, able to cook without even thinking — except when she finds herself reaching for the kitchen faucet to turn on the tap water. The small habit she once took for granted could now be dangerous.
Government negligence allowed lead and other poisons to get into the water. Now, nobody knows how long it will take until it will be safe to drink from the tap again. For families like the McDonalds, giving up tap water means changing even the smallest of their routines.
So Jeneyah, a substitute teacher, taught her son that the water is poison because, she says, “I don’t know any way to explain to a 6-year-old why you can’t take a bath any more every day, why you can’t help Mommy wash the dishes anymore … and that way he’ll know I’m serious, don’t play with it, even if I’m not looking.”