The little things all matter
It is easy to forget that our world is made up of millions and millions of small events. Sure, it’s punctuated with the odd 9/11 type huge event but, in the main, you will speak and interact with people hundreds of times each day and the majority of these exchanges are the minutia of life. Your children interact with you and get to see you interact with others all day every day. It is these interactions that build up the image they have of you over time and not what you get them for their birthday.
I recommend that all parents, but especially dad’s, watch an excellent Australian film called Men’s Group. In it there is a challenging scene where one of the Dad’s, Alex, is waiting at a set of traffic lights with his son sitting next to him. As is quite common, a guy trying to make up couple of bucks starts washing his windscreen, despite Alex telling him to “f&*# off mate” repeatedly. The window washing continues and so Alex gets out of the car, muttering obscenities, and has a physical confrontation with the guy pushing him away, swearing at him and throwing his mop after him.
Alex explains to his son, who is clearly unhappy and embarrassed, “You’ve got to watch out for those f&*#ing dickheads alright. That’s a f&*#ing example . . .” The scene cuts and we Alex’s son uncomfortably listening to these pearls of wisdom. It’s a powerful scene.
Recently I was sitting at the lights in the passenger seat of my partners car (Dani) and I saw a guy doing the same thing. I always call them over because my windscreen is usually dirty and I think anyone trying to make a buck ducking and weaving between traffic deserves a break. I know this is frowned upon by some people who think it simply encourages them and the money will be spend on drugs or alcohol. I try not to lump everyone into one category and he/she may just need to buy his/her children some food. Who am I to judge sums up my take on this.
The key point is, whether you think they should be allowed to or not, if they are there then you may need to engage with them to say yes or no, to give some money or not. Alex, I think, gives us a perfect example of how not to deal with the situation.
The guy nipped over and quickly started washing while I looked for some coins. I had none on me, Dani had none either and the compartment for parking money was bareen.
What to do?
We could give an apologetic shrug and try and convince him he had no change or I could give him the ten dollar note I did have on me. What I did was never in question. I handed him the ten dollar note as I said yes and it would have felt wrong to stiff him. As Dani handed over the note, his face absolutely lit up and as we drove away he stood in the middle of the road and gave us a big wave.
And guess what? That short exchange, that brief connection with someone who is less fortunate than ourselves, left Dani and I feeling great too.
I didn’t have my children with me but the point is, if you always act in a positive way, your children will learn thousands of small positive lessons throughout their life.