Wednesday, October 17, 2012

The Kindness of Strangers

This afternoon I took our children to Toys R Us so they could give me some ideas about what they want for Christmas.  I had my handy smart phone with me so I could snap pictures (and prices) of the things they wanted the most, then my husband and I could review the photos later.  The children were warned in advance that this was NOT a buying trip, simply a looking around and checking prices trip.  We spent well over an hour looking at toys of all shapes and sizes with me taking pictures of the most desired ones.  As we made our way towards the front of the store we passed the stuffed animals and our daughter saw the stuffed cats.  So, of course we stopped to look at them.  She chose a kitty that she just loved and kept hugging it to her chest while her big brother was looking at these huge stuffed snakes.  Several minutes went by and both children were asking how much the stuffed animals were, but the prices on the shelves didn't seem to match up with the hodge-podge assortment of stuffed animals.  I figured what the heck, we'll check the prices, put them back on the shelf and head out to the car.  Well things didn't go quite that easily.

The price scanner nearby didn't work (of course!) so we took them to the register and asked an employee to check the prices.  After she scanned them I told the children okay, we know the prices and can add them to the Christmas list so go put them back on the shelf.  This is when my sweet little almost 5 year old went from her begging/pleading face (see picture to the right) to full-on heart breaking sobbing.  She cried and cried, not loudly but with huge tears running down her face as she put her $8.99 stuffed kitty back on the shelf.  I felt like a terrible, horrible parent for making her put it back, but my thoughts were:
  • Her birthday is in 1 month
  • Christmas is in 2 months
  • She has over 15 stuffed cats already at home
  • This was a "looking" trip, not a "buying" trip
  • She's just really tired and could use a snack
So we headed out to the parking lot, with 1 crying child, 1 quiet/deep in thought child and me with a broken-heart questioning if I did the right thing.  Her soft sobs really were quite heart-wrenching.  I'm thinking all this when I hear someone behind me say, "Excuse me Ma'am?".  I turn around expecting to see an employee, but it's a customer who has followed me out of the store.  The nice lady then says, "Could I buy those toys for your children?"  I told her she was really sweet to offer, but it wasn't necessary.  I explained that we were simply looking for Christmas ideas and that my sobbing daughter already has quite a few stuffed cats.  The lady replied that if there was a problem or something she really didn't mind paying for them.  I declined again, but thanked her for her kindness.  Talk about total stranger kindness!  What a blessing to have someone offer to buy a toy to help cheer up a child.

In the car we had a snack and a drink, then my sweet little girl fell asleep within 5 minutes on the ride home.  Food, drink and a nap cures most tears and what that won't cure a mom's kisses usually will.