My youngest son and I went to Sam’s Warehouse recently for some supplies. But once inside the cavernous store Tyler, who was eight, asked if he could go look at some toys. I reluctantly let him go and started getting what I needed. (I suppose that a proper father would never do this, but it seemed okay at the time.)
After thirty minutes of shopping he came running to my cart as I was checking out talking about all the people he had talked to, and I recall thinking, “What kind of dad (myself) would let a child wander around talking to strangers.” And then I saw a merchant rushing toward us from the back of the store, waving his hand with some package he had in his hand. I blurted out to Tyler, “What did you break!?” But the merchant surprised me by handing me a box of pastries and explained to me that he wanted to give them to Tyler as a gift, because of how friendly, helpful and polite he had been when he sampled the merchant’s product. I was both humbled and proud of Tyler—-who was, of course, beaming with self-satisfaction that someone was responding to his kindness.
A few moments later, as we were walking to the truck with our purchases, Tyler noticed a elderly Black lady in a car with what must have been her granddaughter—-a little girl four or five years old. Their car windows were down and Tyler loudly proclaimed, “Daddy, look at that little girl! Isn’t she pretty.” I glanced and noticed that had little girl had colorful ribbons in her hair and that she was smiling at my little boy. But it was the grandmother that got excited. She perked up, smiled broadly and replied, “Well, what a handsome boy you are.” And that’s all it took. Tyler bolted to the car, but his little elbows on the door with the rolled down window and began to chat with the little girl and her grandmother like they were old friends!
My little boy accomplished what many pastors, social workers, teachers and protestors do not. He made a vendor at Sam’s, along with a young girl her grandmother, feel very important—-and he made them smile and glad to be alive for a few moments. He was simply kind to them—he had no agenda, made no attempt to “understand them”, was blind to their vocation, color and gender. He was merely, and sincerely, happy to talk to them—-and they knew his innocent love, gentleness and friendliness came from his heart, not his political or socials aspirations.
How refreshing to see an eight year behave like adults in America should…