Sunday, July 19, 2009

Lessons from my 4 year old

Two things before I start my story.

1. I believe in God. As a general rule I kind of see him like my President, only more omnipotent and super natural. I believe in miracles. But I kinda like my God working on big picture stuff if I get a choice. If he or our current President could solve World Hunger, Unemployment or Global Peace I'd be a happy camper. I figure I'll handle my stuff, I'll teach my children worship and peace and kindness and value of every human being and I hope he'll handle the big stuff.

2. This story takes place in a local grocery store on a very busy Sunday late afternoon/early evening. I don't know why my entire town chooses to grocery shop at that time, they just do. So it's ALWAYS busy and packed and apparently I've not learned my lesson either because I'm there too.

Right now Micah and I are busy counting our pennies. We're both very lucky to still have jobs right now but we're working really hard on debt reduction/saving for maternity leave so that leaves money a little tight sometimes. That's okay. But I certainly take my time and count my pennies when I can in terms of our grocery budget.

Earlier in the day I had cleaned all the change out of my purse. When I say cleaned out I mean that I emptied everything from my purse and then dumped it upside down on my counter. I took all the change and put it in the Family Change Jar earlier in the day and had completely forgotten we were going to go grocery shopping later. The grocery store we got to has a Penny Pony which gives mechanical pony rides for a penny. Normally I try to keep a penny or two in my purse for Lulu for this but this time, well, I forgot.

I'm waiting in line at the store and Lulu sees the pony. I see two little girls on the pony already but it's not moving. They yell to their Grandma who happens to be in the line next to mine. She's already getting her groceries scanned while I am still waiting. Grandma says something to the effect that she does not have any money right now for the pony ride. Lulu walks up and starts chatting with the little girls who appear to be about 5 and 3. She comes over and asks for a penny. I know that I emptied my purse earlier but I decide to give it a shot and look. There at the bottom of my purse, after I empty it on the counter at the store, is a penny tucked into the crease at the bottom. That's miracle #1.

I give it to her and now have a confession blog readers. I'm not always generous. I try to be, I try to teach my children to give but sometimes I fail. Sometimes I forget how I am supposed to behave and that everything I do is an example to my children. I tell her not to put it in the pony but to wait her turn even though I know those little girls aren't about to get a ride.

Their Grandmother is flustered behind me and I start to pay a little better attention to her as the cashier starts scanning my purchases. She doesn't have enough money for her food. She's short but I don't know exactly how much until I notice things she starts to put back. There is a line 3 people deep behind her and I can sense her embarrassment. She puts back the tomatoes, the Popsicles (the only childish "treat" I can see in her cart), some chicken etc. She is trying to be proud but my guess is that she put back at least $50 worth of food. That's when I pay more attention to the little girls. Their hair is done nicely and they are clean but their clothes give them away. They are more worn than I would expect, certainly hand me downs that have seen more than a couple of children before them, possibly thrift store sales. Nothing wrong with either but the clothes make me think that this is a family certainly experiencing a harder time than my own.

Lulu and the girls are trying desperately meanwhile to fit all three of their bodies on the pony. She wants a ride, they wont get off and she's willing to share. She catches me looking at them and tells me, loudly, "I WANT TO SHARE MY PENNY MOMMY!" I smile, the cashier and bag girl smile at me and I know they are thinking my child has apparently learned from someone better than me. But the fact of the matter is, no matter how they try it, those little girls are NOT going to fit all on that pony. And that fact hits Lulu too. She climbs down and tells the other bigger little girl to take the spot at the front.

She then walks over to me, penny still clutched tightly in her hand, and tells me she wants to give the girls her penny. She knows I told her to save it but, and this by the way kills me, "They need the ride more than I do." I tell her to go ahead. All of this conversation was whispered between her and I. She walks back and I can see she's still hesitant. She's not perfect either but she's 4. She really wanted a ride and she's about to give up her chance. She knows it.

Just then my cashier finishes ringing up my order. Grandma is still listing a few items to put back and counting her cash over and over again. I hand the cashier my $40 cash and prepare to put the rest on my debit card when I see it. There, sitting directly on my wallet is a shiny dime. Where the dime came from is still a mystery to me because I had JUST taken my wallet out and searched my purse for that last penny. And now here is a shiny dime. I grab it and ask the cashier to make me change and he does while he also takes my debit card payment. All of this happens just as I hear the two little girls yell "WHEEEEE" behind me as the mechanical horse starts it's ride.

Lulu walks back over to me and gives me a hug and I can see she's a little disappointed but still happy to have done her good deed for the day. Just then I hand her a new penny, fresh from the cashier's till. She skips back over to the pony and is so excited to get her turn next.

I get to the pony just as the little girls are finishing their ride and their Grandmother is collecting them. She thanks me about 10 times for giving the girls their ride. I smile and tell her it was nothing. She tells me the girls haven't been able to ride the pony in months, she's been hanging on to every penny.

Sometimes doing a good deed gets rewarded and showing the kindness in yourself shows the best of humanity to others when they need it the most. I was reminded of that today from one of the best sources ever. From a 4 year old doing the work that was set in heart by someone greater and more omnipotent than myself.



Awesome story. Awesome TRUE story.

Give Lulu a little snuggle for us over here.

This grocery store story was waaaaaaaay better than the one I wrote involving Mari taking off her pants. Thanks for sharing it.


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