GWhen riding through nature to the store to get chips, you must stop at every water crossing. (Sarah Simpson/Citizen)

Sarah Simpson column: Good behaviour and kindness never get old

The chips were less than $2.

The other day my husband took our daughter on a date to watch the Duncan Skating Club’s afternoon presentation of The Lion King Jr.

It was a working date, he was photographing it.

It’s always a special thing to go to work with Dad. I remember the days going in on the weekend with my father: eating sugar cubes from the cupboard of stained coffee cups in his lunch room, playing in the stationery closet and with that weird machine that had a telephone receiver AND a keyboard. (It was a fax machine, but I didn’t know that back then any more than my kids would know what it is now.)

I remember trying to staple my fingers together (not a smart choice by Young Me, those tiny holes cause a lot of blood) and the feeling of scandal that occurred when I noticed the swimsuit calendar on the mechanic’s peg board.

I remember having to be on my best behaviour in the office even though very few people worked on the weekend.

People are always around when we take our kids to work. To be invited to work means the expectation of not just good behaviour but above-average behaviour. The kind of behaviour where if you even think about misbehaving you get the warning glare in a hurry. Admittedly, that’s hard with young children. We do our best.

So our two-year-old went with Dad, leaving me with a rather unruly three-and-a-half-year-old.

He and I teamed up to come up with a plan for our special time. We decided to get some exercise (me) and ride my bike “through nature” to the store to get chips (him).

Off we went. He’s small for his age so he still fits in the seat that attaches to my bike. We had a great time riding and decided once we’d secured his treat we’d ride to the arena and meet up with his sister and Dad.

(That might have been the longest introduction I’ve ever written to get to my actual story.)

In short, my wallet was in the car (bad idea, note to thieves: I took it out) so I borrowed the $50 education money my daughter got on her recent birthday. When we got to the store, well, 10 minutes after we got to the store because that’s how long it takes a three-year-old to choose just the right bag of chips, we learned the cashier was unable to break the large bill. Understandable. The chips were less than $2.

My helmet-clad son’s head dropped as he handed over the chips. I immediately went into disappointment-management mode. But as we were leaving we heard: “Wait! Stop! How much are the chips?”

We turned around to see the woman in line behind us pushing a handful of her pocket change over to the clerk.

My son’s eyes lit up and I leaned in and told him to use his manners.

“Please may I have the chips,” he said. “Thank you!”

And everyone in the line melted. (No one more than me.)

I was so touched by this woman’s generosity and thanked her profusely. I’m proud that when my kid needed his manners most, he used them. Because that woman deserved his very best.

On we rode to see some of the skating show. It was great. My kids even shared the chips. Mostly.

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