What ensued after I asked her that question was quite a little scene. Ask the boys. She started ranting and raising her voice and telling me how hard it was to be in her position and 'did I think she liked asking people to buy her stuff?' and I began to feel smaller and smaller. Now, there was a voice in the back of my mind that said she could be scamming people, and trying to scam me BUT here again, who was I to judge? She said its hard to find a job and she had been applying all over. Hmmm, I wanted to say "Try WalMart, Target, and York County has a need for bus drivers" but this was not the time or place for me to be 'technically right', she was very upset and this conversation was going nowhere fast. The whole time I felt my boys eyes BURNING holes in me. I could not make out what their eyes said but they were full of something...I just didn't know what (yet).
I finally got the woman to a place where she was not yelling and talking in circles and just when I thought I could wish her well and good luck in her endeavors, trying to leave with as simple a 'exit stage left' as I could, she began to openly cry and put her face in her hands. Oh my Lord. I really did it. With my Police of the World, unthinking sassy pants question, now this woman was crying and I wanted to hug her. Who cares if she was trying to scam me or anyone else? Yes, actually, technically, anyone "soliciting" has to get a permit or license to solicit in the parking lot but we all know that York County is not going to give her any such thing. Likely, no city would. So, my question was just mean, wasn't it? Rhetorical. I already know the answer. I did not hug her. I did not give her money. I just stood there and said that I wished her well and good luck. That was it, that is how I ended that situation. She actually thanked me and walked away talking to herself under her breath.
As we walked away, I quickly got filled in to what the boys' burning eyes were trying to tell me. The Oldest said he was glad I did not give her money and she could be lying--and I immediately realized I was a poor parent in that situation. My goodness! I should have just given her what I had. I normally give to everything I can, if I can, even if it is only change. I have been known to stop my car and put money in buckets in crazy areas that I am unfamiliar with. Here around town too. But for whatever reason, this time I pushed back and boy did I regret it. If someone is asking for money and they intend to do something other than what they are asserting they need it for...that is on them; not me. I KNOW THAT! I am not here to judge one person. How do we balance this with kids? Teach them to be kind and giving yet cautious at the same time? This has been tearing through my mind all day. SO... I spent the next 30-45 minutes trying to counter what happened. The boys were concerned about going back in the parking lot in case she approached us again. I wanted her to! I was ready for her, I was LOOKING for her. I wanted to fix it. I finally explained to the Oldest, "Imagine how humiliating it is for her to walk through the parking lot. Whether or not she is being genuine and feels this is her only choice or whether she is being deceitful, it's still hard to make that choice to walk through a parking lot and ask folks if they want to buy what you've made or for them to just give you money." That seemed to make a light bulb go off for him. Finally, I think I helped him understand why maybe I was wrong and we are not meant to judge.
I will go back over all of this with them tonight. Lessons all around in this life. Just want to make sure they know it's a tough thing to balance and we just have to do the best we can. Even though I might have messed up in the parking lot, now, I want to make sure that they understand it's our job to be kind. That's it. Just be kind. Be smart; yes, but be kind. I don't think I was kind. I think some crazy person took over my normal brain today. Yes, that is what happened. In all my life, I just want the boys to learn goodness and have good morals.
Wonder what tomorrow will bring..and what lessons will lie there? Surely they are waiting right around the corner.