Saturday, November 3, 2012

Give. This is what I hope to instill in my son. A sense of selflessness, charity, and a genuine desire to just help.

Not because people are watching, and not because you feel guilt if you don't.

My mom raised us to look at people entirely, not just at what we saw. We learned at a very young age that the man on the corner with the cardboard sign may have given his legs to fight for our freedoms, and then lost everything. A man that we looked at with pity, should be viewed instead with gratitude, and as a man of honor and sacrifice. I want my son to see that man's sacrifice, not his dirty clothes. Not his wheelchair.

When he goes to hand a ten dollar bill to the young woman holding the sign at the intersection, and the grouchy people tell him that "she will probably just spend it on drugs and booze," I want him to take that chance. I want him to give it to her anyway. Just because, maybe, and if only maybe, she may be struggling with hunger pains.

I don't want him to listen to the greedy people of the world, the millionaires that are upset about their taxes paying for food stamps or even the middle class ones that complain. If he has everything he NEEDS, I want him to be perfectly content. When I think of the hopes I have for my son, it isn't for him to be famous or rich. It is for him to be thankful. To enjoy what he has, to have everything he needs. To care that others have everything that THEY need.

It is in this spirit that I finally got around to the task of making Eldon a "moonjar" to replace his piggy bank. If you aren't familiar with the (brilliant) concept, there are three separate compartments. One for money to save, one for money to spend, and one for money to share (or give.) Didn't they turn out cute?

I contemplated letting him choose where he wants to put his money, when he gets it. At four years old, I don't think he will truly understand the choice he is making. So he will get three quarters, or three dollars each time and will place one in each section. Once he gets the hang of it, once it becomes usual for him to give, I might let him take the reigns. For now, the charity will be of choice and I think that's enough.  

Stay tuned for how this pays off (haha...get it?)  

random acts-{one and two}

Eventually, I think I will just be offering up a weekly recap of our daily deeds. I did want to share though, how our very first day went as we ventured out and participated in our new 30 day challenge. For more information about this challenge and where it came from, check out this post.

Yesterday was November 2nd so I had some ground to cover. Two small random acts of kindness in one day. It turned out to be both harder and easier than I thought it would be. I went in to this with a million ideas. All ideas that cost money. All money that I simply do not have. Turns out, money isn't really necessary. People are influenced by the smallest gestures, gestures that I don't always even recognize I am making. And when you are out there looking for something nice to do, those nice things just sort of fall right into place.

Yesterday was a "town" day. (This concept of going to town only when absolutely necessary is one better understood by us backwoods country folks;) I loaded Eldon into the car and the 45 minute drive afforded me some time to fill him on some key things about what we were trying to accomplish. We want other people to feel happy and thankful. We have been talking alot about being thankful ourselves lately, but it is still a concept hard for Eldon to understand. He does understand joy and happiness though, and he was able to put the cause with the effect and throw out some ideas of his own.

He kept "wishing" out loud that we had brought his "peanut candy" along, referring to the Halloween candy he collected that contained peanuts. He is allergic to peanuts and wanted to pass that candy out to other kids. I couldn't blame him for not wanting to give up the good stuff. The thought process that it took for him to acknowledge something he had that he didn't need, and a way to get it to some one who might appreciate it more was exactly what I had hoped would happen. The wheels were turning.

He was hooked.

All day long, he was holding doors open, he was "helping" strangers, he was pointing out toys that we wanted me to buy...for other kids. I am hoping this sticks.

So, what did we do?

Tiny, easy, simplistic gestures. Random acts of kindness which hardly took any effort other than a new way of viewing the world. (and getting used to lugging my camera around with me all the time, just in case.)

Along with the candy, Halloween brought us a book of coupons, each containing a free frosty from Wendy's. We decided it would be fun to leave the coupons in random places we stopped throughout the day, in the hopes that some one would find them, appreciate the small surprise and treat themselves to something. We left the first on this ATM, and I let Eldon keep his eye out for the rest. We ended up leaving them at vending machines, and hidden throughout the children's section of the library. A tiny frosty. A tiny gift that has the potential to be a huge one. I know that sometimes a quick little ice cream date is all Eldon and I need when we start to butt heads. This may just be ice cream, but it has the potential to be an opportunity for a conversation that needed to be had, or a reason to stop and enjoy yourself for a second.

When a friend asked me to pick her up on our way to a ladies movie night (Magic Mike....whoa) I stopped to clean some garbage out of my car.  Apparently I am saving for something special in between and under seats, because I always seem to find a handful of change. I contemplated vaccuuming my car too, but we didn't have time. Instead I pulled the quarters out and left a sweet little stack by the vaccuum for the next person who came along to use it. It cost me $3.00 that I didn't even know I had. That I won't even miss. I do know though that if I pulled up to a vaccuum and saw that I didn't have to search my own floorboards for quarters (other people are that unorganized too, right?) it would bring a smile to my face at least for a moment.

I can easily make a list of random acts of kindness. In fact, I have. Our first day has taught me though, that even when small, some of the most rewarding acts are the ones that just pop up because you want them to. Not premeditated, not thought through. Must be why they call them random, eh? It's all starting to make sense now...