Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Greed and Giving

Shay is in greed mode now that the holidays are approaching. He keeps telling me what one thing he just can’t live without, and he’s been writing elaborate letters to Santa, even though he isn’t really a believer anymore. He’s hedging his bets, just in case.

I have to say, however, that the desire to acquire is settling down to a dull ache – as opposed to stateside, where we were bombarded with advertising from every angle until we had to have it all.

Both boys have actually impressed me with their selflessness this season. First off, Aidan’s little friend Otto turned 6 last week, and Aidan was invited to Otto’s party. Otto’s mother told me not to bring a present, as Aidan had already given Otto such a nice gift at school.

“Oh, you must mean Jayden,” I told her, knowing full well that we hadn’t yet gone shopping. But no – both she and Otto insisted it was Aidan. So I went home and asked him about it. Turns out, it was Aidan. See, for his own birthday, a relative had sent Aidan a really nice gift, one he was looking forward to using, but had set aside for a rainy day. Aidan decided that if he liked the gift so much, Otto would surely love it. So he brought it to school and asked the teacher’s assistant to help him wrap it up for Otto. You’d think the teacher’s assistant would have questioned him about this, but she didn’t. So it turns out that Aidan wrapped up his own favorite thing and gave it to someone else. When I explained to him that he couldn’t ask for it back, I expected tears, but he was quite pleased with himself for coming up with and carrying out such a plan.

Then there’s Shay. Some neighbors of ours are active at a nearby orphanage that takes in disabled Chinese orphans in the hope of fixing them up for adoptive families. The neighbors decided to hold a fundraiser for the orphanage. They’re hoping to raise enough money to help one little baby boy with a cleft lip and another who is critically ill and needs major heart surgery. We were invited, and Shay decided he wanted to donate some money to the cause. I told him I’d match his contribution, and he scraped together 38 RMB (a bit over $5) from his allowance. So I rounded it up and gave him 100 RMB. He was so proud of himself when he put his 100 RMB in the donation box – even prouder when the family members made a point of thanking him. They gave him a little paper ornament with a picture of the boy who needs heart surgery, and he keeps the ornament in his room.

Yesterday he came home and asked if we could do another matching funds donation. It seems the Roots n Shoots kids at his school are holding a fund raiser for a local animal shelter. 50 RMB covers the expenses for one dog for two weeks, and if you donate 50-100 RMB, you can basically “adopt” a dog and bring its picture home. Shay had 56 RMB he was saving to buy Christmas presents, but he decided he’d rather do this. So I gave him another 50 RMB, and he was able to sponsor a dog for a whole month. He chose “Hootch,” a rather unfortunate looking little dog, and now we have Hootch’s picture up on Shay’s shelf next to the little boy’s picture.

I’m actually rather proud of him. I asked if he was sure he wanted to give all of his present money – I suggested he might want to keep a bit of it, but he said this was more important. This from the kid who only last week was telling me he would actually DIE if he didn’t get this particular Lego doohickey that he desperately wants.

The cynical part of me thinks he just wants to impress Santa and ensure a place on his “good kid list.” But he hasn’t once mentioned Santa in connection with his good deeds. And I’m impressed with the way he – and Aidan – thought about what they could do to help someone else, and then went and did it.

Let’s just hope Shay doesn’t try to talk me into matching funds so he can get his Lego set next…


Jill said... [Reply]

Wow - you definitely deserve bragging rights on these stories! Amazingly generous little boys you have there!

I'd be one proud mama if I were you!

Connie said... [Reply]

I think your boys are learning excellent lessons about real life from what they see around them. I know that my kids like new things they see in magazine ads, etc. but they are also very quick to say they need to put things in the charity box too. I was just really tickled this year because many of the things my kids asked for were either practical things (shoes! PJs!), or simple items/accessories to go with favorite toys they already have.

Simple Answer said... [Reply]

To raise kids with such big hearts is a huge accomplishment! You should be really proud!

Please. Write your own stuff.