Yesterday my son, daughter and I went to the grocery store. Ahead of us in line was a little girl with her mother. The little girl was asking her mother for a box of Smarties. She was asking very politely and you could see it almost broke the mother's heart when she said, "I'm sorry, Honey, but we just can't afford it."
My son was watching that dialogue. Incidentally, he had been raking leaves in our yard to raise himself some money to buy a treat. As he watched the mother and daughter leave the store, he ran to the candy counter and grabbed a box of Smarties. (It turns out that I had also grabbed one pack).
My son proudly placed the Smarties on the conveyor belt, pulled out his money and bought the Smarties. He turned to look at me and I just nodded. Out he ran after the little girl and her mother, as he gave them the Smarties. He came back and told me what he told them: "Every kid should have a pack of Smarties 'cause they make you smarter."
I still purchased the pack of Smarties that I had picked up for the young girl and instead gave it to my son. I told him that I was so proud of him, and that for his act of generosity he deserved his own Smarties. Promptly, he replied, "But you do nice stuff for people and you never get anything for it." I explained that when you do something nice for someone it should not be because you expect anything in return, but when you do get something you should be very grateful.
On our way home we passed the mother and her daughter walking home. I stopped and offered them a ride. I found out that along with many other families in our town, they had lost their income when the local mill shut down and now their employment insurance is done and there are no local jobs. We struck up a fast friendship -- they are even coming over for dinner! -- and I have learned that I am raising my children to be thoughtful and caring individuals.
-- Author Unknown