Friday, December 13, 2013

getting and giving

as i've mentioned, it's so important to me that my kids understand that this time of year is just as much about the giving as it is the getting.

i want them to be aware of the many things we have to be grateful for but to start to cultivate an understanding that there are people who are less fortunate. 

when we see someone holding a sign at the exit of a parking lot or an intersection, bonz asks me what their sign says. it gives me pause every time – i don't want to burden him but i don't want to shield him. so i tell him that their sign says that they're looking for help. but then i explain that there are lots of ways to help and explain the ways we do just that because i would imagine that maybe it seems strange to a four year old that we don't stop to help every person who needs it.

this year i really wanted his involvement in buying a new toy to donate to toys-for-tots. i explained what we were going to do and why and he was into it. in previous discussions, he hasn't been too into the idea of donating and i can understand – parting with stuff that's ours to give to other people? the idea of letting go of things we're not using or needing can suddenly spark a renewed (or even brand new!) interest even for the best of us.

so the other day we were at costco and, naturally, found ourselves perusing the toy aisles as we've been known to do so i thought it was a perfect opportunity to get something to give.

okay, this story's going to take a quick left here before getting back on track. our last visit to costco was a bit of an upheaval really. we always take a detour into the toy aisles when we're there but it's almost always just to look – we so seldom buy toys there that looking is the accepted norm. however, on this particular day, bonz spied a tool set that was rad, obviously. he asked if we could get it but i said we couldn't. i mean, we could have gotten it but we didn't. i like to take such opportunities to create a limit because the last thing i want is my kids thinking we get stuff every time we're out and there's something cool. bonz was not happy with my decision. at all. it became crystal clear to me very quickly that we needed to get the few items we came for and get out of the store. he was upset and we were talking about it as we got what we needed and headed for the check-out. it was escalating but not to the point where i needed to abort mission and leave – but it was only a matter of time. once we were loading our jumbo-sized goods into the car (and bonz felt safe to really let go) he did just that: let go. he was so sad about our not buying that tool kit. and mad. and really mad. and so disappointed. and did i mention mad? dude, let's just say it was a very productive – albeit loud – ride home. he let his feelings out, i was right there to hear and understand them and whew, the calmest, clearest bonzo remained once he said (and cried) his peace.

so where were we? oh yes, back at costco – the toy aisles no less. part of me wondered if he saw the tool kit again if would reopen the wound. but i knew in my heart that it wouldn't. last time, he was sad and undone about the tool kit but it wasn't really about the tool kit. and as we rounded the first toy aisle and headed into the next, my theory was about to be tested: there it was. and in true costco fashion, a giant stack of them, impossible to miss. and what'd bonz say? "hey look, there's that tool kit, mama!" and that was that. 

and with that he proceeded to take his job of choosing what toy to buy to donate very seriously. i was curious if he was going to pick something out that he wouldn't like himself – maybe that'd be easier for him to part with than something he'd love to have. but it was his choice to make and after careful consideration, he chose a radio-controlled race car – something i know he'd love to have himself – knowing fully that we were going to keep it in its box and donate it.

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the next morning we all walked over to the local fire station where they collect toys to donate for toys-for-tots. bonz held the box on his lap the whole time, then proudly deposited it in the big box at the station. there were not kudos and accolades from firemen or any acknowledgement from anyone but ourselves. and as we walked home, we talked about how rad it felt knowing that a kid we didn't even know would be so stoked to open that cool gift for christmas and he agreed – it would be great

it was a proud parenting moment and the beginning of an annual tradition that i'm excited to share with these guys. 


Terri said...

This made me tear up. I can't wait to start teaching the importance of giving to Olivia. I also can't wait until it gets easier for me to roll with her big feelings and realize their importance. YAY you!

kukolina said...

You are a very good person! I am so glad I read this post!
I have to go to bed now, this was an awesome bed time story.
I will wake up at 3:30 tomorrow and I will experience a first time just like you did in this story of yours. No, it will not be about donation. It is more down to earth: I will fly alone with my son for the last part of our trip. Moscow-Budapest. (We are flying from an island in Thailand.) I am hoping to be calm like you!
xoxo, Eszter

Tamara said...

This totally made me cry! What a sweet, delicious boy you are raising! Good for you. Good for him. That IS what the holidays are all about. xoxoxoxoxox ! t.