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Thursday, April 12, 2012

Unexpected lessons

The kids and I had ran to the store this afternoon for stencils for a cub scout project.  When we were leaving a gentleman approached us in the parking lot asking if I could spare any money so he could buy a meal.  I had the kids get into the car while I looked in my purse and pulled out two dollars.  I handed it to the gentleman and he thanked me graciously and walked away.  As we drove off I silently wished him well and hoped that the money was indeed needed for good things.  I had been scammed before and sadly it made me skeptical of people, a feeling I didn't like.  On the drive home Cort asked me if the man was poor.  I tried my best to explain to Cort that the man did indeed seem to need money for something but we have no idea if he is indeed poor and that money is not necessarily a measure of someone's wealth.  I told him that I was more than happy to help the man by giving him the two dollars I had in my purse and hopefully other people would be generous as well and little by little the man would be able to find what it is that he needs.  Cort asked me why I didn't give him more.  He remembered that last night we sold our large trampoline in our backyard - the buyers had paid us in cash.  I gently told him that although I would love to be able to give the man that money, WE need that money in order to pay our bills, and buy us food.  He thought about this for a few minutes. Then he said, "but mom, we have a house and food, he has nothing and he is walking around a parking lot.  Shouldn't we give him the money?"  My son's logic made sense and I felt bad.  I was so proud of Cort for thinking of others.  I wanted so badly to turn the car around, find the gentleman and let Cort give him the money, but I couldn't do it, our finances wouldn't allow it.  Plus how do you know that he is an honest man, down on his luck and not someone trying to scam somebody to make a quick buck?  It is awful that you have to think that way.  Of course I couldn't tell Cort any of these thoughts going through my head.  I hope that my two dollar contribution to a stranger for some food helped to teach my son a valuable lesson about giving back.  No, it wasn't a ridiculous amount of money, but to the gentleman who needed it, I don't think it mattered.  He was grateful for the kindness of a stranger.  Cort wasn't the only one who learned a lesson today.  The whole thing made me think too.  If everyone in this world would show a little kindness towards one another, imagine what we could accomplish.  If Cort, at eight years old understood that this man was in need more than us why can't adults help others when they need it?  Why does everything have to be so complicated? 

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