Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Joy of Giving

On the way back from doing the weekly grocery shopping, we parked our car for a couple of minutes so the hubby could nip down to the pharmacy. There were four kids sitting on the street just outside the window. None of them was doing anything in particular, but something about them captivated me.

“Look at those kids”, I said. “They don’t have any toys, and yet they are so cheerful.”

“They may not have toys, but they have lots of flowers”, countered my younger one.

“But they are not playing with the flowers. They are selling them.”

“Why don’t they have any toys? Did their mother throw away their toys because they were naughty?”

“They don’t have any toys because their mother doesn’t have enough money to buy them toys”, I told them. “And they don’t have TV either, nor money to buy chocolates and milkshakes.”

While the two of them digested the information, the genesis of an idea formed in my mind.

“You have so many toys that you don’t play with. Why don’t you share some of your toys with them?”

“Will they share their toys with us?”

“They don’t have any toys. How can they share something they don’t have?”

“If we give them our toys, will we get new ones?” That came from my earlier insistence that for each new toy I bought them, they would have to give up one.

“These kids have no toys, and you have so many. That is why I am asking you to share your toys with them. It has nothing to do with getting you new toys.”

Neither quite bought the idea, but I let it simmer for a bit.

The next day, I pulled out the box when I had put away all the toys that the kids had stopped playing with, and sorted the ones I thought those kids would be able to play with.

“What are you doing?” The older one was curious. The younger one didn’t bother with preliminaries, he just started picking up all the toys that I had put aside.

“Those are not for you”, I admonished. “Those are for the little kids we saw yesterday. The ones who don’t have any toys to play with.”

“But I want to play with this.”

The time to be firm had arrived. “You may want it, but those kids don’t have any toys and we are giving it to them.”

“I wouldn’t let them have it. I will snatch it away from them.”

“That’s’ not a very nice thing to do. You have so much, and those kids have so little. You have to share.”

The younger one was just not convinced, but he gave in with poor grace.

“Mamma, if I give these toys to those kids, will I become a good boy?”, piped up the the older one.

“You are already a good boy. But if you give your toys to those kids, then every time those kids play with it, they will think of you and thank you.”

“Will I then become their friend?”

“Yes, you will.”

That appealed to the younger one. “I will also go with my brother and to give the toys to the children.”

Things did not quite work out as we had planned. We did find those children, but  neither of my kids has quite learnt the art of giving (and neither did those kids know the art of receiving), so it eventually fell to me to hand the packet over to the oldest of the children and tell her that she was to share it with all the rest.

Both kids were remarkably cheerful on the way back. “Now those children have toys to play with. They don’t have to be sad any more.”

For the first time in India, we are celebrating a Joy of Giving Week, where every individual, is encouraged to give according to their ability. Though unplanned, I am happy my kids have finally experienced that joy.


Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

What a wonderful story! And a wonderful gift you've given both the children who were strangers to you, and your own children.

Mystery Writing is Murder

ladyfi said...

A lovely story - and a wonderful gift for kids to learn. My kids gave away lots of toys to an orphanage in Kenya when our neighbours organized container space for donations. The kids still talk about it today.

mmm.. definitely time for another one of those give-aways perhaps. You've inspired me!

Elspeth Antonelli said...

What a marvelous mother you are! The lesson of giving is one we should all remember.


Rayna M. Iyer said...

@ Elizabeth - and the best thing is that the older one went through his toy cupboard, and set aside more toys for the kids.

@ Fiona - giving is almost more wonderful than receiving, isn't it? And you are never too young to learn that.

@ Elspeth - why thank you.

dipali said...

I guess your older one is old enough to comprehend the joy! And the younger one has a good example to follow.
We used to give sweets or a meal to an orphanage on our kids' birthdays when they were younger, along with whatever other kind of celebration was planned for that year.

Bubbly Bala said...

Giving does not come very easily to kids.You have to slowly instil in them the habit of giving away some of the toys and books they have outgrown.Then then will start wanting to give away things on their own without any prompting.You never liked giving away your stuff when you were young. I find a great change in you after joining Magic Bus.
I have made a list of things to do this week.I started off by talking to my dear friend Jaya.And wasnt she happy to have someone to listen to her ramblings

Rayna M. Iyer said...

@ Bala - I think the most important gift that anyone can give is something the other person likes to receive. For your friend, Jaya, a phone call would mean much more than a diamond pendant.


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