Thursday, July 20, 2006What My 3-Year Old Taught Me
Bustling about the kitchen as usual, I was pleasantly surprised when Xavier came in from outside and said out of the blue: "Mom, I want to give some of my toys to the poor kids." (A couple times a year we go through the toys and weed out what's accumulated over time... I've always told him it's a nice and wonderful thing for us to give some of our toys away to the little kids who don't have any-- via St. Vincent de Paul's or another such organization.) I was happy to agree of course and told him he could pick out any toys he wanted to give away... thinking he would do the usual routine of finding the broken, old, or unappealing toys and "sacrifice" those. So I gave him a brown paper bag and let him go into his room to do the business alone.
When he came out, I was very taken aback by the toys he had chosen. Yes, there were the small, insignificant, miscellaneous things that didn't mean much to him, but in addition there were some of his nice toys too... some of MY favorites. I was hesitant at first and tried pulling out one of the beautiful hand puppets he had put in there: "Buddy, this goes to your other puppets." He replies, "No Mom, I have a lot of them." And again, I balked at the little wooden Noah's Ark boat he had in the bag. But he was certain: "I've played lots with it, the poor kids will like it now." There were some of his favorite cars and figurines at the bottom of the bag too. I explained to him that once we give the toys away, he can't have them back. He said he knew... and that he gets toys "all the time" anyway.
Mercy me, was my heart in the wrong place! When I go through MY things to donate, I always look for the stuff I don't use anymore or the ugly ill-fitting, or stained clothes. When have I ever really sacrificed something that I liked? I'm afraid not often. And what is a gift if it's nothing more than the garbage we don't want anymore? Not much of a gift.
Without another word, I put the bag in the van and we took it to the local thrift store where he insisted on giving it the worker himself. I am so proud of that little one. May he continue to teach me love and generosity in their truest forms.
-Ellie: Oak Harbor, WA