Sharing, Gratitude, and Generosity
I'm finding that kids are kids, regardless of background. They need to learn the same lessons. I was hoping that a few of the things Rhonda and I instilled in our older girls would automatically be part of Neti and Meke's DNA because of their background and experience. At the orphanage, everything was shared. According to Neti, no one owned any clothes. Outfits were rotated among the kids. They had almost no toys. There was only one ball that all 70 kids shared...etc. I expected Neti and Meke, therefore, to be more grateful, more sharing, and more generous, simply because of this background.
My expectations were unrealistic. I found out at Christmas, that Neti had to be taught how to give to others. It's not automatic.
The lessons continued today - this time with Meke. We were preparing to take a trip to WalMart to spend the $5 Valentine's Day money they receieved in the mail from Grandma. Our family practices giving a minimum of 10% of all earnings to those less fortunate. Our kids have a special bank with a slot for "others".
I decided today would be as good as any to introduce the concept to Neti and Meke. I anticipated a little bit of pushback from Neti, but to my surprise she counted out 50 pennies and dropped them into the appropriate slot.
I could tell from the body language that this wasn't sitting well with Meke.
"What's wrong Meke?"
"I don't want to give money. I want to buy something."
"You can buy something, but we want you to share the good things God has given us with others. Don't you want to share with others?"
"I want to buy something."
"But you need to share too. It's just like your toys. You share your toys, right? We want you to share your money too - with people who don't have very much - like kids in the orphanage in Ethiopia - you know, like your old friends..."
"I don't like to share."
"You don't like to share? Yes, you do! You're a good sharer, Meke. You share your toys. You share your bed. You share..."
"I don't like to be sharing money."
"You don't like sharing money?"
I was a bit stunned. It took several seconds of silence to ponder my next move.
"So people shouldn't share money?"
"No. People shouldn't share money."
Her response to my question set me up even better than I had anticipated. I quietly picked up the Meke's new $5 bill and put it in the "out" mail slot on our refrigerator, leaving her with a handful of random coins. I could see the wheels turning in her head. When she finally realized she had forfeited the bill, the tears started flowing. She was only able to communicate between sobs.
"Daddy (sob) I (sob, sob) want (sob) my (sob) mo- (sob, sob) mo- (sob) money!"
"But people shouldn't share money. So we need to send that money back to Grandma."
"No. We should share."
She didn't answer. Regaining her composure, she began dropping coins into the "others" slot without even counting. I helped her count as Neti began telling me of the good she hoped her money would do for someone without food.