It’s easy to become cynical in this world of ours; there’s a lot to be cynical about, of course, and I’m often naturally cynical. But my stance softened a little this week when I saw an act of kindness being delivered than for no other reason than he wanted to.
The person concerned is my son, and it never ceases to amaze me that any child with a less-than-ideal start in life can have the ability to love and hope so innocently – but I have to remind myself frequently that children are more resilient than I give them credit for.
Bryan is quite affected by homelessness; whenever we see people living on the streets, I know there are going to be a lot of questions. I always try and answer them honestly; sometimes, they’re difficult conversations, but I don’t shy away from the realities of life – I might … selectively introduce different topics, but I never lie to him. The world can be cynical, and Bryan needs to understand – in his own way and in his own time – the complexities of life.
Bryan felt deeply about people who were worse off than him; he hated the thought that people struggled – absolutely hated it, and so one day, I asked him what he thought we should do about it. He thought about it and decided that he wanted to donate … something to people in difficult circumstances. I gave him some options, and he felt that saving up some of his pocket money was the right thing to do. He actually decided that he would do some extra jobs to earn a little bit more, so that he could make sure that he had enough to spend down the arcades on our occasional visits – I can’t begrudge him that, especially when he used to offer to help with the washing up.
This week, he reached the admirable target of £40, all saved out of his own pocket, so we went up to Tesco and spent it on food for local food banks. He led the way on creating a list, finding the things in Tesco, paying, and loading everything into the giant collection crates. To say I was proud is an understatement; I reminded him that people would be able to eat because of what he had done, and I was overwhelmed by his genuine desire to help. He took it in his stride, and didn’t entirely seem to understand why it was so impressive – didn’t everyone do this sort of thing, he wondered?
I happened to take a picture of him as he unloaded all the food from the trolley into the collection crate; being the proud father I am, I posted this picture to my social media accounts, and the response was overwhelming – on LinkedIn particularly, people committed their own money (either on the message boards or privately) to match Bryan’s donation, and a few hundred pound wended its way to food banks as a result. An unintended, but wonderful, consequence of my son’s kindness.
I tell you all this because I’m proud, yes, and also for one other reason. Over the past few months, we – society – have been focused on continuing to teach our children during lockdown. But children can teach us as well, in so many different ways.