Sunday, April 21, 2013

Giving Spirit

There are lessons that we try and teach our kids everyday. Lessons like, say please and thank you. Don't hit when you are angry, use your words. Don't put peanut butter on your leg so the dog will chase you. Ok, so maybe that last one is exclusively for my kid.

But there is one thing that I have never had to teach my child, it's something that she has come by naturally. And that is a giving spirit. She loves to share, she loves to give things away. She loves to give presents, so much so that I have to tell her not to give all her toys away. Seeing her do these things brings joy to my life.

When we go on walks she will pick flowers along the way. A lot of the time she doesn't bring them home because she has given them away to people she sees walking past us. Most people smile and say thank you. There of course has been the crotchety person who sneers and walks off, but she doesn't let those people dissuade her. She just keeps on giving. One prime example happened last year at Christmas.

That was the year we helped my dad ring the bell for the Salvation Army.  I worried that my active 4 year old wouldn't have the patience for standing for an hour ringing a bell. And I was right, she didn't. However, one of the volunteers brought a large stocking stuffed full of Dum Dum's to hand out to people. This was right up my daughters alley. In fact, a little too much so. I had to catch her several times as she chased after people, lollipop in hand, yelling, "This is for YOU!"

One of the ladies told her only give out lollipops to people who donated money. Then she would know which ones wanted the candy and which ones did not. Good advice, I thought. Until she started shouting, "Hey! You forgot to put money in the bucket so I can give you a sucker!" Sigh....

Anyway, after our hour was up and we left, all my daughter could talk about was giving away more lollipops. So when a couple days later, we needed to finish some last minute Christmas shopping, I decided to load up a small purse for her to carry and pass out candy canes. Before we hit the stores we stopped for breakfast. My daughter wiggled and squirmed and was so ready to leave, eager to start handing out those candy canes and say, "Merry Christmas!"

Before we left a perfect opportunity opened up to us. As we finished our meal a group of soldiers, dressed in fatigues, walked in the doors. I told her to get those candy canes ready. She was so excited, she ran the wrong direction. After corralling her back around I pointed to the soldiers and told her to say, "Thank you for your service and Merry Christmas."  She dutifully went up to the first young man and positively shouted, "Merry Christmas, Service!" The guy blinked at her then smiled, and took the candy cane. He looked up at me a bit confused, and I stuck my hand out.

"What she meant was, "Thank you for your service, and Merry Christmas." He laughed and shook my hand. I didn't get to say another word, as my daughter had already dashed off to the next person. The problem was, he was in the process of ordering and paying for his food. I caught up to her just in time to hear the guy say nastily, "I don't want that."

My poor kid just stood there, not knowing what to do next. I was already pulling her away when a big voice boomed out behind us. "I'll take that candy cane." My daughter hurried off in that direction and I quickly followed. That voice belonged to another solider. This one was older and much more decorated than the others around him. His gaze was fixed on the young guy that had just rebuffed my daughter. It was not a pleasant look. But, when my daughter finally reached him, he was all smiles. He knelt down and talked to her a minute and laughed when she said, "Merry Christmas Service!" I shook his hand, and that of the others around him, and thanked them all for their service.

As we headed for the door I noticed that the older soldier's stare was fixed once again on the kid that turned my daughter away. It was still not a nice look. I had a feeling some pushups was coming that guy way. I almost felt sorry for him. Almost.

What a better world this would be if we all had her giving spirit. And a lesson can be learned here. If a child hands you a candy cane, you better take it. You never know who is watching and how many pushups it will cost you. :)

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