Where is the weirdest place you stumbled upon a life lesson for the kids? We were at the grocery store the other day when an opportunity came up.

The grocery store is actually a pretty good place to teach your kids about life. There’s science, there’s reading, there’s math, there’s biology, there’s botany, there’s the social sciences…the list goes on. Usually, though, I’m trying to teach the kids stuff like how to not run over random strangers with the cart or how to properly not block the entire aisle so that people can get by. Also, there’s the subtle art of trying to divert those awkward questions that inevitably come up.

For instance, years ago there was a three or four year old girl in the grocery line. She walked up to an obviously obese woman and poked her in the belly. Her mom desperately tried to stop it from happening. But time, it seems was not on her side. “Hey, lady. Are you pregnant or just fat?” I thought this mom was going to just curl up and die right there. Kids….they are sneaky, no?

Anyway, on this particular day, the lady in front of me in line at the checkout was unloading her cart onto the belt. She had to put the divider stick down so she could put her stuff on the belt. Obviously the old dude in front of her didn’t do it, so it fell on her.

When she was done, she put a divider behind her groceries so I could put mine on. It was such a small gesture but it says so much! I came home and posted on facebook how I love people who put the divider behind their groceries on the belt.

I was surprised by the response that small post got. Turns out, a lot of people love it when the person in front of them does that. In fact, one guy went so far as to ask if there are people who really don’t do it. (He’s Canadian…and we all know how polite they can be!) 😀

Anyway, I’ve gone about my day and this small common courtesy this woman did has been sticking with me. Why?

Well, the obvious reason is because most people around here don’t do it. I remember getting pretty judgy with the old dude in front of her for not giving her the common courtesy of a divider. I was ready to write him off as a jerk, but then another thought popped into my head.

What if he’s having a colossally bad day, and just getting a few things at the grocery store were all that he could manage? What if his life is so hectic that it never even dawned on him to do it? What if the person in front of him didn’t do it, so it didn’t cross his mind to?

I dropped the judgmental feeling and then suddenly felt sorry for the old guy and silently hoped his day got better.

We live in such a busy, hectic world these days, sometimes we forget about the people around us are also people who are just as stressed out and hectic as we are. This was a good time to talk to the boys about slowing down and being deliberate. How, one small act like putting the divider behind your groceries left one less thing for the person behind you to do. It’s a tiny gesture, to be sure. But isn’t an avalanche made up of a bunch of tiny delicate snowflakes? Isn’t a tsunami made up of even tinier microscopic water molecules? Stand in a sunbeam and you are being warmed by a massive amounts of even tinier still subatomic particles that have no mass whatsoever.

So, I tell the boys, no matter how small the act is, do it. Because you can make someone’s day a bit better, then they pay it forward and make someone else’s day a little bit better and so on…

No act of kindness is too small to matter.

Also, karma was full up in effect, because as I was trying to get the picture of the groceries on the belt, I got distracted and forgot to put the divider behind my groceries. DERP!

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