I have a four year old son. Watching him grow and discover the world around him has been a fascinating and amazing journey, one that I feel very privileged to take part in.
Yesterday, we went grocery shopping. He often sits in the cart and plays with toys or reads a book, but that day, he decided to bring his crayons and pad of paper so that he could draw. As I was getting him settled in the cart, he yelled excitedly, "I know! I can make pictures and give them to people!" I thought that this was a great idea, and encouraged him to do it. I thought he'd probably give one to the cashier at the end of the trip.
What I didn't realize at the time was that this would be a shopping trip in which I was brought to tears and felt incredible pride in my son.
Immediately, he started drawing excitedly and tried to get the attention of people around us. "Hey! Hey!," he started with, waving pictures in people's faces. Most people completely ignored him, or looked at him briefly and smiled. I was a little embarrassed and sad for him, and I told him it would be great for him to give a picture to the cashier. He said he wanted to give them to the people around him instead. I told him that some people were too busy and tried to redirect him to the cashier.
He was adamant that he wanted to give his pictures to the people shopping and he kept trying to get the attention of the shoppers around us. Again, most people ignored him, and as I stood there with him in the cart in front of me, I thought, "Why not? He just wants to make people happy and share his work." So I reassured him that we'd find someone who would love a picture soon. I also asked him to try saying "Hello, do you want a picture?" instead of yelling "Hey! Hey!"
As we continued on our shopping trip, Ben kept drawing and trying to give his pictures out. We found some very nice people who were happy to accept his drawings, some who were so delighted it nearly brought me to tears. Every time someone accepted his drawing and we'd started to walk away, Ben yelled "Yay! Now they REALLY like drawings!"
It was amazing to see how excited he was to share. He was genuinely hoping to make someone else happy and was delighted when it worked. One man was so touched with Ben's offering that Ben immediately gave him another.
I like to think that my little boy brightened the days of others yesterday, rightly feeling proud of himself for trying something different, something that crossed the unspoken social conventions of grocery shopping (one does not speak to strangers or give them things). I am so proud of him for his generosity and perseverance. Even when people ignored him and I felt embarrassed, he kept trying. It was a great experience for both of us, a reminder that children have much to share and to teach us, if we let them.