Apologies for this post not being strictly money related - well it kind of is - but whether it is or not, it still means enough to me to want to share it.This week has been without a doubt the hardest week of my life. No, I don't want to talk about it but suffice to say I haven't wanted to talk to anyone, see anyone, go anywhere - if I had had my way I would have happily spent the rest of my life living under a rock. So it was rather inconvenient that Liam was scheduled to play the most important and prestigious rugby game of his life last night. Even as excited as I was, getting in that car and driving two hours to get there, then sitting through the game with my all consuming emptiness and depressing thoughts was going to take every bit of my strength. Still, I made it and I'm glad I did as I had never been prouder of my eldest son as he took to the field with his team at Waikato Stadium. This was the stuff childhood dreams are made of! And with perseverance, dedication and unlimited love and encouragement from his family, it was a dream which had come true.
Anyway, I survived the first half without falling into a heap and watched with amusement at a small boy who looked just like the Milky Bar Kid and spent the entire half time interval hip hop dancing at the bottom of the aisle. When the second half started, I thought I had better go closer and get some photos of Liam whizzing up and down on the wing and went and stood next to the boy. 'Hey, I liked your dancing, you're really good!' I told him. 'Thanks! I won a prize for it today!' he grinned. 'It's the first prize I've ever won!' 'Oh well done, that's awesome!' I said. 'Yeah, my mum doesn't even care though. She's up the back with two bottles of bourbon. Have you got bourbon too?' 'No, I haven't got any bourbon', I laughed. 'She's got food too - but she won't give me any. I'm starving! But she only gets it for herself', he said, wrinkling his nose.
At that point our team scored a try and I turned my attention to photographing Liam and his team mates. 'That's my son there - number 14', I said proudly. 'Wow, he's really tall!' the boy replied. 'I'm watching my brother, he's on the other team - number 20. This is the first time I've seen him in two years. Today is the 15th time I've seen him in my whole life'. I already knew who his brother was; I had seen the fat oaf in the first half abusing his little brother as he ran past. 'Ooh, donuts!' he grinned, running up to the young girl who was selling bags of them for $5.00. I wished I had some money to get him some but I didn't have any cash on me.
'Maybe Mum will give me some money - oh, she's eating a pie now!' he said unimpressed, nodding his head towards the back of the stand. 'She spends so much money. Do your kids get pocket money?' 'Not any more, they have jobs now', I smiled. 'But they used to?' 'Yep, they used to. Not that they ever did anything for it!' I laughed. 'I've never had pocket money - and I have to do everything! Do the dishes, feed the dogs, feed the pigs, put the washing out, take the washing in; heaps of stuff. But I've never had pocket money. So you really don't have any bourbon then?' 'No, I really don't', I laughed. 'I don't drink it - but I have to drive two hours home so I couldn't if I wanted to!' 'Two hours? That's MILES away! I've lived here my whole life, here in Hamilton. But we're moving to Taupo soon. I don't want to move. Nobody even asked me!' 'Yeah, grown ups are crap like that', I sympathised. 'But Taupo's cool! I love Taupo, there's heaps to do there'. 'Yeah right, you don't have to say that just to make me feel better', he looked at me wryly. 'Not like I'll ever get to do any of it anyway'.
I was at a bit of a loss for words after that and wasn't having much luck taking photos so moved back up the stand where Liam's grandfather was sitting watching the game. 'You made a friend?' he chuckled. 'Yeah, poor kid - our two boys don't know how lucky they are!' I said, telling him the story. For the remainder of the game, the two of us watched my poor little Milky Bar friend run up to the donut cart twice more and look in hopefully before running up the stand to his sour-faced, purple haired mother, still sat stuffing her own face with her partner. How could she let her own kid go hungry like that? The game ended and as we stood up to leave, the girl with the donut tray came and stood on the step next to us. The boys' granddad and I looked at each other. 'If I had $5.00 I would get that poor kid some bloody donuts!' I said. 'I was thinking just the same thing!' he said back. 'What's up? Oh, that boy', she smiled. 'Is he yours?' 'No he isn't, the poor kid's starving!' I said sadly. 'Yes, I know, I saw him. Do you want to go and give him some? I'm not supposed to do this but'... she quickly swiped a bag of donuts out of her tray and handed them to me.
'Thanks so much!' I beamed and looked around for my little friend but he had palled up with two other boys also watching the game and had climbed over to the next enclosure. I was stuck with this bag of donuts I could no longer pass on to its rightful owner! 'Is there a problem?' asked the security guard. 'I need to give something to that kid over there, the one with the glasses. Can you pass it over to him?' 'I wish I could! But I'm not allowed to leave my post', he looked around apologetically. 'And I'm not allowed to let you in this part either'. Oh heck, all that for nothing! 'The poor little fella's starving', I explained. The guard looked around one more time, then quickly opened a small gate. 'Quick, before anyone sees you!' he said. What a sight I must have looked clambering over and under railings and hopping over walls, all the time yelling 'OI!' as I didn't know the boy's name. At last I managed to catch his eye and he pointed to himself 'Do you mean me?' before scampering over. 'Here you go. I've got to go now but I thought you might like these", I grinned. 'Are these really for me?' he said in total disbelief. 'Did you get some for your son too?' 'Nope, just you', I smiled. He gave me the biggest Milky Bar Kid grin I had ever seen and took off with the donuts, pausing to yell 'THANK YOU!' and wave at me madly before I jumped back over the rail.
I made my way through the stadium and was about to leave when the donut girl caught up beside me. 'That was such an awesome thing to do!' she said. 'And do you know what? He went straight and shared them with those two other boys he just met. He was so hungry himself but he still gave some to his friends. I think you're one of the nicest people I've ever seen!' 'Oh well, I've got two boys and they've been through a tough enough time lately but that kid just broke my heart. Thank you for making it happen!' I replied. 'You've got two boys? They're so lucky to have a mum like you. Here - take them home these', she handed me two more bags of donuts. 'And make sure you have some too, you deserve them!' She gave me an awkward hug across her donut tray and I finally left the stadium, full of warm fuzzies and warm donuts.
And it was that small, insignificant but very rewarding event which restored my faith in human nature but more than that, my self confidence and self respect. It doesn't take much to be a good person and in that instant I knew I was one. It's going to take a little time but thanks to the Milky Bar Kid and the donut girl I no longer want to spend the rest of my life under a rock. Being happy in your own skin really is all that matters and I've finally realised I am.