Recently the kids and I were in downtown Salt Lake City with grandma and grandpa. Like any other decent size city, it is normal to see homeless people. This day was no exception.
We were walking back to our car after a fun afternoon at the Discovery Gateway Children's Museum. On our way, we passed more than a few homeless people holding their signs.
One person in particular caught my attention. His sign read, "Homeless U.S.A.F. Vet with Multiple Sclarosis" (his spelling). The man's hands shook as he held on to his crude, cardboard sign. He was sitting on the pavement with a baseball cap in front of him for donations.
Something tugged at me. I couldn't resist. I reached into my purse for the only one dollar bill I had. Puff asked me what I was doing? I then asked her if she wanted to give this man the money. She answered yes.
I watched as Puff walked the few steps to the homeless man. She shyly placed the dollar in the baseball cap. Before Puff could sneak away the man uttered, "Thank you honey." Puff smiled, ever so slightly, and walked back to me.
The kids and I still had a five minute journey to the car; up the sidewalk; down the escalator; and through the parking garage. I took this time to study Puff. It was obvious those few moments with the homeless man had affected her. I could tell she was processing her feelings.
I had a surge of emotion because I knew that for the first time Puff had seen a homeless person. Of course, she has looked at homeless people before, but this was the first time she had "seen" a lost person.
I saw the look in Puff's eyes. They were sad, but also happy and grateful. She contemplated this man's misfortune. In her eight-year-old mind, Puff wondered about this man's daily existence.
"You feel sad for the man, but happy because you gave him some money, don't you?" I asked.
Puff nodded her head yes.
"What was wrong with the man?", Buzz asked. "Why were his hands shaking?"
I didn't have to answer. Puff did it for me. "He is sick and he doesn't have a home."
I was so proud of her. Puff's understanding of this one man's plight opened her eyes and heart a bit more. The world is not fair. There are those that suffer alone. It is a hard lesson for someone so innocent to learn.
I believe Puff became a better person that day. I hope she will carry the emotions of that day with her; I want her to remember how it felt to reach out and help someone, a stranger in need.
And in her own small way, Puff was the Samaritan.
P.S. For those wondering if I might be a bit naive, I'm not. Whether this man was truly in need or not, I don't care. It was an amazing moment to teach my daughter about compassion for another human being.
More from parenting