A few weeks ago my husband, Mike, took the 4 ½-year-old with him to run some errands in the Danbury area and they stopped at McDonald’s for lunch. It was the one on Lake Avenue (Mill Plain Road).
As they were finishing their lunch, a young man approached and asked Mike if he had any spare change to give him so he could get something to eat. Instead, my husband and Mikey went up to the register with the guy and told him to order whatever he wanted, and Mike put it on his credit card.
The young man was grateful, saying he was out of work and couldn’t afford rent or food. (Although Mike noted the guy had a cell phone…)
Anyway, as they left the restaurant, Mikey asked his father why the man needed money to buy lunch, and Mike told him that some people don’t have enough money to eat. It led to a conversation about how our family is fortunate because we can afford to buy food and clothes, and toys, and a “cool house,” as Mikey calls it – and how some other people aren’t so lucky.
Mike told me all about this when he got home, but he wasn’t sure if Mikey really absorbed any of it. So, I asked him: “Buddy, did you and Dada buy lunch for somebody today?”
“Yep,” was all I got, as he continued coloring.
“That was so nice of you!” I said.
Regardless, I was glad Mikey had the opportunity to witness his father do a good deed.
About a week later, for show-and-tell, Mikey and his classmates were all tasked with bringing in something they are thankful for. Well, Mikey chose his Battle Cat action figure, from He-Man. We tried to explain to him that things you are thankful for would be family, or maybe his teachers or friends.
Nope. He is apparently very thankful for Battle Cat.
Fine. Whatever. Another check in the parenting “fail” column for me and Mike.
That day when I went to pick Mikey up from pre-kindergarten, his teacher called to me from down the hall, “Mrs. Crocco, do you have a second?”
I cringed, then whispered to Mikey, “Did you keep your pants on today?”
His teacher came over and told me that during a lesson about being grateful for the things you have and about how some people can’t afford food or clothes or houses, Mikey raised his hand and told the class about how he and his dad bought lunch for someone at a restaurant who didn’t have any money.
She said he was so passionate about telling the class this story, and that it was so appropriate for the lesson.
I ugly cried. In the hallway of his school. I think maybe the teacher thought I was having a breakdown.
I couldn’t wait to tell Mike when he got home that night, because I knew he would be touched.
And when Mike said to Mikey, “Did you tell all your friends about how we helped buy lunch for someone who couldn’t afford it?” Mikey said, “Yep.”
That’s all we got.
Kids, man – just when you think they aren’t even listening to the words coming out of your mouth, they surprise you.
I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving, and let’s all try to keep our patience, our joy, and our humanity as the holiday season progresses!
Holly Crocco is editor of the Putnam Count Times/Press and mother of a 4 ½-year-old. She can be reached at email@example.com.