I love so many things about my Ruby Ru, but I think one of her very best qualities is generosity.
Sure, like all toddlers, she has her moments of not wishing to share (moments when she and Ava have their beady eyes on the same toy usually), but as a general rule, Ru is unfailingly big-hearted.
The best of example of this must be Ruby's willingness to share food – in particular olives, which I might have mentioned before are absolutely her favourite thing. I buy them occasionally as a treat.
I'm wary of giving her too many of course, what with their kidney-zapping salt content. But given a bowl of six small olives, Ruby will stuff four in her mouth, hold one in her hand and, almost always, offer Dan or I the last one, or even one each.
Of course, it would be even more generous of her to split them even stevens, but I do think it's admirable for someone so little to enjoy something so much they feel compelled to share the experience.
Yes, Ru is generous indeed. And not only with olives, but also with my money, as I discovered last week.
You see Ruby and Ava and I had some errands to run (Ava was looking like a boy from the 1970s and was in dire need of a haircut, we'd run out of everything useful in the fridge, and we needed some fruit from the market) and first stop was the hole in the wall.
Why do they always have a sign above them saying 'free cash' by the way? In my experience, they never give you free cash, they just give you your own cash, from your own account. Very misleading in my opinion.
Anyway, I digress. So, next to the cashpoint, as is often the case (here in London anyway), was a homeless chap. He looked about 40 and wasn't in too bad a shape. But for muttering 'spare change please' whilst not making eye contact, he didn't do anything so interesting it would have caught the attention of my youngest daughter. But he had a dog. And THAT was very interesting indeed.
There was one person in front of me, and I kept hold of Ruby's hand while she repeatedly said: "Aaaaah! Mummy! A dog! Baaaaby dog!" (It actually looked about the same age as its owner).
As I waited my turn, I endured the turmoil I always do when faced with this situation. A homeless person next to a cashpoint knows you are about to have a purse full of money, but can not be confident that you will hand them a note. And I don't, as a rule, give cash to people on the street. I've often offered to buy an extra sandwich or a cup of coffee, but I feel funny about possibly funding a can of Special Brew. I don't know what's the right thing to do, really.
The man ahead moved off and I got my card out, punched in my numbers, and waited for the machine to haughtily consider my request. Meanwhile, Ruby watched as a passer by chucked a 20p coin on to the man's blanket. I glanced down, he looked like he'd collected about £1.50.
As the machine beeped, and I took my card out, I felt Ruby rummage in my coat pocket. As the machine beeped again, and I removed my £20 note, I felt Ruby remove her hand. And just as I was about to stow the note in my purse, I heard a very healthy tinkle of coins.
I always seem to have a bit of loose change in my coat, usually pennies accrued as a result of £1.99 or £2.99 minor purchases. If I'd realised that on that particular day I'd had about seven quid in £1 and £2 coins, I probably wouldn't have gone to the cashpoint – it would have been more than enough to buy a few bowls of apples and peaches.
The homeless man looked a little surprised, but delighted – as did Ru, who said: "Look, money mummy!" and she pointed at the stash on the blanket. "Aaaaah. Look, issa dog!"
For a second, a question flashed across the man's face: 'You don't want it back do you?!'
I smiled and cleared my throat, and said I hoped he could find a good lunch. And I really hope he did.
More on Parentdish: