Tis the season to be generous. to give gifts to friends, donate goods to needy families, and write checks for worthy causes. Imagine my dismay when our then 16-year-old son showed me I wasn't nearly as ho-ho-happy about giving as I claimed to be.
My lesson in humility began one Tuesday afternoon. Our son, Matt, sat perched on the steps of a downtown office building waiting for his father to pick him up after his first driver training class. A man in shabby clothes ambled along, asking for money, supposedly to pay for having a tire changed at a nearby garage.
When Matt told me this story later, I felt my skin grow hot. Yeah, right … he needed money for a tire. More like for drugs. Or a cheap bottle of wine.
"The man said he needed $17," Matt explained. "So I gave him $10."
"Ten dollars?!" I fumed. How dare this panhandler talk my son out of his hard-earned money? "Honey, why would you do such a thing?"
"Because it felt good to help somebody, Mom."
Ouch. Still, I felt Matt didn't understand the situation, didn't get the Big Picture about how the world worked. "A dollar would have been plenty, Matt. Just to show him you cared."
Just to get rid of him. That's what I meant, even if I didn't say it.
Matt's brow drew into a knot. "But wouldn't ten dollars show him I cared even more?"
Ouch again. Adult logic goes by the wayside when faced with a teenager determined to do the right thing.1