I had an interesting experience happen to me recently, or rather, something I did affected my children. I don’t share this as a form of conceit, but rather shock and awe. It was a perfect example to me of how we are always watched, though we may not realize it.
The kids and I had been shopping on Whyte Avenue, the local arts and entertainment district hub of Old Strathcona. It was a beautiful day, and we had just finished up. We were headed to South Edmonton Common to do some final shopping. I was thirsty so I pulled into the 7-11 at the corner of Gateway South and 76 Avenue. As I walked towards the entrance of the store, I noticed a homeless man standing to the right of the entrance. As I approached, he asked, “Hey buddy, is there any chance you could buy me some food?” I replied with my usual response, “I’m sorry, I don’t have any change”, which was true. I know it’s judgmental, but I don’t like to give homeless money as I usually know where it goes, and it’s usually not food. I know…very judgemental. He repeated his plea with the same words, almost trying to make a point. I repeated my answer.
As I entered the store, it gnawed at me and I reviewed the exchange again, in my head. Something was different. He didn’t ask for money. He didn’t ask for money for food. He asked FOR food. Suddenly, I felt a bit ashamed. I grabbed my pop and approached the cash and asked for a piece of pizza to go. I also noticed the gentleman, next in line, had also purchased a couple of bananas. We smiled at each other and I said this would give him a balanced meal. As I left, I handed the homeless man the pizza and told him to have a good day. He gave me the biggest smile and “Thank you, sir”, and I headed for the car. What I didn’t expect was was happened when I got in the car.
My two youngest children said, “Oh my gosh, Daddy, that was so nice! We are so proud of you. That must mean so much to that man.” I was stunned. They had watched the whole scenario and they had never seen me do that before. So, I explained why I did it. They understood and continued to talk about it for quite some time.
Being an example to your children can be very difficult. You never really know if they are watching, listening, or even practicing what you are attempting to teach them. But then, there are those few special moments that I believe, when you might be given a gift, and you are able to see the fruits of your labours. I have some pretty special kids. I have very, very, few complaints. I am proud of each one of them for the individuals that they are becoming.
But, today, was more of a lesson for me. You are always being watched, no matter where you are. It might be by a stranger, a friend, or family member. But, the actions we take, can be an example to those around us, good or bad. I am grateful I was able to recognize this today. But man, do I have a long way to go.