And this was after my husband removed the tool bench and the first garbage bag of goodies

And this was after my husband removed the tool bench and the first garbage bag of goodies

It started the winter when the kids were 1.5 and 3.5 years old. I was working at a homeless service organization that worked with families. I met a woman, twelve years younger than me, with a son the exact age as my Ninja Boy. The differences between us ran much deeper than our ages — she had just escaped a situation few would believe even if confidentiality did not bar me from sharing her story. I came home terrified to hold my son. The power and beauty of his soul held the same weight as the soul of the baby in my office earlier that day. The only difference in their stories was luck. At 29 years old I finally realized how incredibly unfair life is  when you do not have a belief system where you see every event as having a reason or a predestination. Being a person who has never believed that a 1.5 year old without access to clean water and diapers is part of a greater plan of salvation I instead saw for the first time how futile my work could be in our world.

I spent the early evening telling my husband how sad and helpless I felt, how awful it was to know that what my work could offer in this situation was probably merely salve on a festering wound. We could offer diapers, but what about toys? We had a roof in mind, but what about cute little boy clothes? How do we let this young mom and her son know that they matter, that their shit luck might never have an expiration date but apathy might?

Twinkle Toes asked me why I was crying. I told her I was sad that sometimes little boys do not have toys and clothes even when their mommy tries as hard as she can. I kept talking to Dave for a while, then I felt Twinkle tug at my sleeve. She had went into her room and pulled together toys for the baby.

Kids have such clarity of purpose. They have not been trained to see hopelessness yet. They do not see problems as bigger than immediate solutions. She went into her room and chose carefully, culling some of her very favorite books and a few stuffed animals. I took her example to heart and called my own church to ask for a donation of a gift card that could be used for baby food. Ninja Boy and I chose some clothing, too, so the baby would know warmth that winter.

I had worked in homeless services and other non-profit services for nearly a decade already, but for the first time in my life I felt like nothing I had done had really mattered. Twinkle’s self-directed choice reminded me that it isn’t saving the entire world that I set out to do in the first place, it was to always center my choices on goodness and love.

Every December since that year the kids go through all of their toys and give away everything they think someone else would appreciate more than they do. This year they managed to give away four garbage bags full of toys, a toy workbench, a toy kitchen and a Cozy Coup car. It took Dave loading our car to the max to get everything to a local donation center.

We knew we could take it to consignment and make money but there have been too many years we depended on the generosity of other’s donations to consider doing anything except to pay it forward. The best part is that my only role in the entire process is to hold the bag open. The beautiful and kind souls of my children love the idea of children having toys because of their kindness — they give with an open heart.


About TT&NB

Wife, Mother, grant writer, professional do-gooder and friend
This entry was posted in Family, Parenting, Tiny Human Wisdom and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to Generous

  1. Jan says:

    I loved this post…we can all learn from children, can’t we?

  2. Teepee12 says:

    Children see write through to the heart of things. They have a kind of “truth” laser build it. Beautiful.

  3. kp Attman says:

    I never throw away anything I feel could be useful – there’s always someone who will, as you say, appreciate things more than I am doing so at the moment.

    Giving to others can make such a difference in their lives. We can’t solve all their problems, but we can let them know that we’re here for them, and that can give people the will to get through the tough times.

    How wonderful your children have learned that so young.

  4. Kianwi says:

    Aw, what a wonderful example your daughter was/is. I need to cull MY ‘toys’!

    I work for Hospice and every year at Christmas we buy presents and donate gift cards for some of our poorer families. It is so inconsequential to me and my finances, yet means so much to the family. It is one of the things that makes me happiest at the holidays, that I work for a place that truly cares about the people that we serve.

  5. Samantha S says:

    Such an important part of the holiday season. Good on you!!

  6. christi74 says:

    I really loved how you followed your daughter’s lead on this. It’s so great to be able to have the kids teach us things.

  7. Wow! That is awesome! What wonderful kids you have.

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