pay it forward: a lesson learned

When I think about how I'm raising my children, I often daydream about the type of person they'll become. Will they share the same values as my husband and I?   Will they be respectful, courteous, confident and intelligent?  There must be a million of other questions running through my head at any given time - and only time will tell.

This evening I was rushing off to a blogger event with my two kids in tow and, as I was feeding the meter, Lil J asked me who "that guy" was.  I looked to my side and saw a homeless man sitting on the sidewalk a couple cars down from us.  I quickly scanned my mom brain to figure out the best possible response for a three and a half year old but figured there was no better response than, well, the truth.  I ended up telling Lil J that the man didn't have a home and that he was probably hungry. Meanwhile, Lil J's new "friend" was busy joking around with Lil J and making faces to Lil J's amusement.

Lately Lil J has been showing even more maturity in his understanding of certain situations, so I asked him if he would like to give the homeless man his favourite - and most prized possession - "blue package".  For all you outsiders, the infamous "blue package" is actually a code name for a package of Welch's Fruit Snacks {found at your local Costco}.  Lil J wanted to give it to the man himself, so I ignored the voice in my head and let him.  I wanted Lil J to experience the gift of giving - especially to someone perhaps less fortunate.  I want him to one day understand that we are very fortunate to have what we have and that there are people that don't have everything that we're used to in our everyday lives.

Of course, that nagging mom voice in the back of my head was yelling "what if?"...what if the homeless man attacks Lil J...and, of course, the homeless man was completely harmless, if not thankful.

When we got home, Lil J asked me about the "other guy".  What other guy, I asked.  The other guy, give the other guy a blue package, he answered.  And in that moment I knew he understood what I was trying to teach him.

Empathy.  Compassion.  Thoughtfulness.

The "other guy" was another homeless man who had stopped to talk to Lil J's new "friend" for a brief second and went off his merry way.  And Lil J saw him too.


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