The smallest of kind gestures can make quite a difference and 5-year-old Justus Mateo Smith proved this to his father, Justice Smith. The valuable lesson took place when both father and son were driving back from the dentist and noticed a homeless man in the median strip of a busy road.
Smith wanted to offer the man some money, but didn’t have any cash. “I just nodded my head and waved to him with a smile,” he shared on Facebook. Before he could actually say anything, his son Justus extended 30 cents from his own pocket to donate. “Uncoached, he insisted that I give the man the 30 cents he had in his pocket,” Smith writes. “It’s almost as if he heard my thoughts and responded out loud.”
He was pleased to know his son had such a big heart, but then a thought came to mind: what difference would 30 cents make to someone who is experiencing homelessness? “I was more than happy he wanted to do this with joy (it means he’s been watching), BUT honestly I was hesitant,” he confesses. “My own pride and thoughts of the homeless individual’s unknown reaction to receiving just two coins were standing in the way.”
View this post on Instagram
Smith immediately realized that he was the only roadblock in the situation and he had to act fast. “I thought to myself ‘Dude get over it. This is what we’ve been teaching him and now that he wants to give everything he has to offer in this moment, you’re going to let your personal self-centeredness ruin a possibly life-long, great memory and solid teaching moment?’”
The devoted dad admits, “I almost told my son, ‘Let’s wait to give until we at least have one dollar.’ I almost told our son by my inaction that what he had wasn’t enough. I almost showed him that what he sees as a good thing. And is in fact a good thing. Isn’t good enough to make a difference in someone’s life. I almost taught him that pride was more important than helping another human.”
Ultimately, this was a teaching moment for Smith. He realized that he's been working hard to be a positive influence on his children and didn't want to take this moment away from his son. “Leading by example is what we’ve been teaching him,” he writes, “so now let him lead. Let him give what he can to this man…” Smith rolled down the window as his car approached the man experiencing homelessness and said, “I’m sorry man, I don’t have any cash on me, but my son back here wants to give you everything he has right now. He just turned 5.”
View this post on Instagram
“The only thing that matched the brightness of that stranger’s smile after that moment was…the bigger smile on our ‘baby’ boy’s face!!” Smith shares. “Our little boy, without even realizing it, reminded me once again by his actions that it’s always about the heart. It doesn’t matter how much you have or how little; giving in love and sincerity will often bless others more than we think.” That single kind gesture caused a chain reaction with the cars behind them that day in Nashville, Tennessee. People followed and rolled down their windows to offer donations, too.
Facebook users have showered the little boy with praise and applauded Smith’s parenting. “It melts my heart knowing that there are still kind-hearted people in this world instilling EXCELLENT values in their child,” wrote one person.
“Who knew it’d be our 5-year-old to start the blessing??” Smith says. “How foolish would I have been as a father, as a parent, to not have allowed my son to give because of my own insecurities or baseless embarrassment in that moment?” He admits that his son taught him an important lesson that he will remember for the rest of his life.