Saturday, December 21, 2013

Learning to Give

My child is spoiled. I admit it. He has so much stuff, so many Legos, so many action figures, Hot Wheels, books, electronics, you name it, he probably has it.

A lot of these things were given to him as gifts, but he has bought some of those things with his own money, and he has to work for his allowance. He has to keep his room in order, and he has to take care of the chickens and the cats and fill the wood box for our wood stove. If he wants extra money, he has to do an hour of extra work, such as chopping wood or something like that to help us as a family.

While he is aware that he has a lot of stuff, he is also thankful for it. He tends to always want one more thing, which worries me a bit, but he knows I won't just run out and buy it. He has to wait until he has saved up enough money for it.

When he was younger he wasn't a cheerful giver. I wrestled with how to address it, but being a Montessorian, I decided to let him come to it on his own. I could have forced him to give, but I knew that would not get the result I wanted. I wanted him to love to give, not because I told him to do it.

And it worked. When he was about 7 or 8, we packed a shoebox for Operation Christmas Child. We just did one box, and I let him choose things for that box. He carried it into the collection site, and was so excited to be giving treasures to a little child who probably had nothing at all.

The next couple of years we weren't able to participate. Last year something happened, which I can't remember, and we couldn't deliver the box. The year before that it snowed and the roads were so bad we couldn't get out of our driveway to deliver the box.

This year we had that box, which was packed and ready to go, and we added two more. We delivered them on the last collection day in our area.

All year long we've been collecting things for those boxes. Almost every time he got a happy meal he saved the toy for the box. If Lilly tried to open it before we could get it out of the car, he promptly told her to put it back, that it was for a child who had no toys.

Today his attitude was not as I hoped it would be. He packed the boxes, and was happy to do it, but on the way to the drop off site he seemed a bit cynical. He is sometimes influenced by others around him, and he spent the weekend away. I know he is approaching those years when the influence will be even stronger, and it seems to me there are a lot of negative and cynical kids out there. (I dread this stage so much, and I pray for patience as he approaches his teen years.)

He asked where the boxes will go, and I told him I am not sure, but our labels have tracking numbers on them. On the way home I told him about my friend, Karen, who participated in delivery of shoeboxes. He was quiet for a while. Then he asked how he could do that, and whether he would be allowed to help deliver the boxes.

I'm going to look into it. I think it would be an amazing experience for him.

We also talked about saving $1 a week to purchase gifts next year. I had him do some math to figure out how much money he makes in one year, and how many dollars he would have if he saved $1 a week.

Next year he will be able to purchase some of the items for the boxes with his own money.

Even if we can't help deliver OCC boxes, which I hear is a very coveted volunteer job, I will find a way to do something similar in our own community.

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