Paying it forward
As you may recall, I'm a Big Brother with Big Brothers/Big Sisters. In the organization, the Big Brothers/Sisters are called "Bigs" and, subsequently, I've been matched with a "Little."
Isn't that cute?
Anyway, I took my Little out last weekend to an all-you-can-eat buffet at an Indian restaurant that I like. I remember being twelve years old like he is, and remembering how all-you-can-eat was always pretty exciting. (It still is).
The Little seems to like all kinds of food and isn't a picky eater. He's allergic to peanuts, but other than that he's pretty much on board with food in general. (Well, except for spinach, so I've been informed). After all, he's twelve. He just likes to eat.
He loaded up his plate with some suggestions from me and seemed impressed with the variety. I noticed that he had really nice table manners (handling the food properly, napkin in the lap, saying "please" and "thank you" to the wait staff) and I commended him on it a couple of times.
After cleaning his plate on the the first round, he headed back up to the buffet and loaded up on nothing but naan (Indian flatbread) and samosas. He also liked the dessert.
Fine. He can eat what he wants. He's twelve. Was I expecting him to go nuts over Lamb Vindaloo or the tamarind chutney?
When the bill was presented, we had a lesson on paying restaurant bills. I explained to him that normally, a tip is twenty percent but since we served ourselves, ten percent would be appropriate.
He's a smart kid and could easily figure out ten percent of the bill. I showed him how to add it to the bill, total it up, and where to put the credit card so the server could see it. I also told him that whenever we'd go out to eat, he'd be in charge of tallying up the bill.
I don't picture us going to the park and tossing a football unless he wants to learn how to throw like a girl. I probably won't offer to take him to a Bulls game unless he brings it up and really, really wants to go.
I can teach him that you hold your applause until all the movements of a symphony or piano sonata are completed. I can even teach him how to skate backwards on hockey skates and where the best seats are on a roller coaster.
And when he takes a girl out on a date to a restaurant, I know she'll be very impressed with how suave he'll be when the bill arrives.