As I stand there with the collection tin for the Christmas Bowl appeal I have been watching this boy. He whizzed into the shopping centre ahead of his mother. She stopped at the greengrocer and he did small circles as he waited for her there and then further small circles at the butcher next to the greengrocer.
Across the aisle there is a shop which sells yoghurt, fresh yoghurt and frozen yoghurt in any number of flavours. It is, supposedly, a healthier treat than the stall with the virulent coloured icecream at the other end of the mall.
I can see him eyeing the yoghurt stall. Then he looks at me. He stops whizzing around and reads the poster next to me from some distance back. Then he continues his whizzing.
His mother finishes at the butcher and he follows her to the yoghurt stall. Once there she hands him some money and indicates the array of flavours in the frozen section. Clearly she is asking which one he wants. He hesitates and looks back at me. There is a moment of earnest conversation and then he whizzes over to me and stops. He looks at me carefully and then says,
"It's my pocket money but I think you had better have it this time."
"All of it?" I ask. There is not a lot there but if it is all his pocket money I think I had better check.
He hesitates again and then nods. His mother nods from a distance. I hold the tin right down so that he can put the coins in. Then I say, "Do you want a sticker?"
"Where would you like me to put it?"
"On the back please next to the smiley one."
He whizzes around expertly. I put the sticker next to another one on the back of his little electric wheelchair and he whizzes off after giving me a rather shy smile.
Someone else had been watching too. He had been sitting at the cafe next to the yoghurt shop. When the child and his mother had gone he sauntered over to me.
"I'm fed up with this charity collection bit. There's always someone in here."
I can sympathise with that. I feel the same way myself.
"And I was watching that kid...."
"It was his pocket money," I tell him.
He looked at me.
"He chose to give me his pocket money instead of buying himself a frozen yoghurt."
He looked at me some more. I looked back. He heaved a sigh, emptied his pocket of a little loose change and put it in the tin. No, he did not want a b..... sticker. He went back and finished his snack and left - or I thought he had.
A few minutes later he came back with a note in his hand.
"Had to go to the teller machine," he growled and thrust it at me, striding off before I could even thank him again.
I folded the note carefully and put it in the tin.
People give in all sorts of different ways.