With that said, I hadn't thought too much about how to instill this in my children - until the past few weeks, on a couple of the mom-boards I am a part of there have been a few discussions about explaining poverty, homelessness, etc. to young children. I didn't know how to answer.
Honestly, I don't even really know how to fully understand it all as an adult.
All I really know is that it is important to me to care for others, that my heart hurts for those who suffer - and so I want my children to also care for those less fortunate than we are.
There are a few times in my life I have been overwhelmed by the true goodness of people, of children. I so want that for my children.
My second year teaching my students, after hearing a guest speaker talking about a particular town in Kenya where he had worked, raised a ton of money for the town, out of the kindness of their hearts. These are high school students who don't have to do anything. No one even knew there was a guest speaker, and certainly no one outside the kids, knew what he was talking about. They came back to the classroom, on their own, with the idea that they HAD to do something. I facilitated their efforts, but they were just that, 'their efforts.'
Year, after year, I have watched as high school students gather around those who are in need and lift them up with food, money, donations of clothing and gifts at Christmas time, whatever and whenever they are asked to come through, they always do. I feel like our world vilifies teens as kids who don't care about anything but their phones, cars, and friends (and true, those things are important to these kids as well) - and I see them truly care, year after year.
There was a year my sister and I went shopping with the money they donated during the Thanksgiving food drive, we filled (quite literally) my entire car with thanksgiving supplies for the local food banks.
A few times a year the school where I work fills an entire box (for a truck) FULL of food for the shelters surrounding our town.
It is amazing, heartwarming, and so important.
I want my children to care as my students have. I didn't however, know this caring would show itself so quickly in their lives. It took my by happy surprise, I was a very proud mama.
Sometimes it is so easy to focus on the hardships of new motherhood - I wanted to write this down to remember my proudest moment so far.
Since hurricane Sandy, when we coordinated (with a friend from NY) a big drive for the victims in the City, D frequently says things like, "I don't need this toy anymore, maybe we can give it to the people where the hurricane was." At the time we had him collect toys he didn't 'need' anymore to 'give to children who didn't have any toys.' He seemed to understand the idea that they did have toys and now they don't, but he wasn't all that emotional about the whole thing.
After that there have been a few situations where we have brought people in need things that they needed. New moms, families with children who are sick, the fund at church, have all been discussions in our house. We have talked about Kai's Village and why it is important for mom to be involved in it. We have tried to model a life of giving and service... but again... who knows what a 3 year old who defiantly told me last week,"I want to peep on the floor to make you not happy!" is taking in.
With that said. This conversation occurred between my 3 year old and my husband over dinner the other night:
Dylan was in trouble for refusing to eat politely (or at all), being rude at the table, etc.
Daddy: There are some kids who don't get enough to eat. I wish you would eat the food that Mommy made you.
D: Why don't they get enough to eat, daddy? <immediately visibly upset>
Daddy: Because sometimes, even though people try hard, maybe they don't have jobs or their jobs don't give them enough money to get as much food as they need.
D: Why, why don't they have jobs that make more money so that they can have more food?
Daddy: Because sometimes, even though people are working more than one job, they just don't have enough money for enough food.
D: Daddy, I think we should help them, I want to help them so that they can have some food. I want to bring them some food to their houses.
Be still my heart. Be still.
The next day he went back to terrorizing the house, his brother, his cousins - so don't think I know what the heck I'm doing, I assure you I don't, but for that one moment, I knew something had clicked for him and I couldn't be prouder of my little D. I knew then that we must be doing something (maybe just one thing) right.
Hop on over to these blogs where - if they are lucky - I'll share this :)