Saturday, January 27, 2007

keep the change

Note: There is an edit/addition at the end of this post.

J and M were sitting on our bed reading last night while I was otherwise occupied with laundry and other exciting Friday night activities. When I came back in the room, I noticed they were perusing TIME magazine.

J said she's really taken with a picture in here - she can't stop looking at it. When I asked M what picture she liked she flipped to an advertisement for children with cleft palates. She held it up and pointed to one boy in particular (Ahem, a lovely young man from Africa, no less) and said, look mommee, look. mouthowwie. So I said, yes baby, these babies have owwies (I have no idea how to spell that so forgive me) and they need a doctor, but they have no money.

And then, I swear to freaking god, my child said my piggy bank mommee.

J and I looked at each other, mentally telepathing something between holy shit, really? and overwhelming joy. (Months ago we started the piggybank deal, giving her spare change sometimes and letting her put it inside, talking about how that was her money and she could save it for when she wanted something special.)

So I said, do you want to give this boy your money so he can see a doctor? Yesmommee.

We went to her room and took her piggy bank off the shelf and I said, M, if we open this and take out all the money, that means it will be empty and we'll have to start savihg all over again. Are you sure?

Yesmommee.

So we sat on the floor and opened her bank and she shook all the coins out. I went and got a plastic bag and she carefully put all the coins inside and then took the bag and sat it on the boy's face and handed me the magazine. I asked her again if she was sure, and she said yes.

So we took her money and put it away and simultaneously went online and made a donation. A donation that was made rather reservedly, because they did have a full page ad in TIME. But they do claim that all donations go 100% to programming and not to advertising or overheard, so I'll roll with it because my kid asked me to.

After we were done we put the empty piggybank back on the shelf and we hugged and kissed her and talked about how absolutely wonderful her idea was.

I have no idea what all of that meant in a two year old's head, but damn if it didn't feel like we're heading in the right direction.

Edited to note: One of the things about this that was particularly curious to me was that she conceptualized money. When we started her piggy bank, I thought it was cute, a place for spare change, etc, but I didn't realize that she equated it as money as I see it. And then she equated that money as a means to help. For a 2.4 year old to make that connection, it rather astounded me (and no, this isn't a rant about my kid being smart), it's more speaking to what BubandPie said in the comments, about how much they probably really do know and understand and it comes down to how we allow them to express it. Just my post post .02.

40 comments:

Z said...

Gosh. Wow. I'm lost for words.

Andrea said...

That's gorgeous, Jen. You're definitely doing something right.

bubandpie said...

I've got tears in my eyes.

At first, I was amazed at that much sensitivity in a two-year-old - but now I think maybe it's the other way around: of course a two-year-old sees a problem and instinctively wants to help. And how wonderful that you had already empowered her with a way to help, and responded to her impulse by validating it: yes, she can do something. Yes, her compassion can make a difference.

How many two-year-olds see a photo like that, only to have their compassion stunted by a dismissive response?

Momish said...

M is a remarkable child, but that certainly was part of your influence. I am in awe of your two year old. I love that!

ewe are here said...

Another 'best one'!

You and your husband are obviously doing something wrong.

metro mama said...

You sure are heading in the right direction. Wonderful.

deb said...

She sounds like an old soul, a lovely old soul.

Thailand Gal said...

Very interesting! I have many thoughts about this, too many for the comment section. M. is becoming a wonderful, giving person. This is a story she will be telling her own children one day. :)


Peace,

~chani

Mad Hatter said...

Every time you talk about M, I am astounded by her capacity for compassion. And yet, I am not surprised. Apples, trees.

Deezee said...

holy shit! (is that an un-pc way to express it? have I tarnished your comments section?)

I'm so touched. One of the best things about innocence is that you don't question your contribution - as in, will this really help? - you just contribute!

can I nominate you all as family of the year?

Z said...

What I meant to say and didn't (being lost for words and all) was nice post title. Clever. :-)

Tabba said...

Holy Cow.....That M....I don't have anything adequate to say. Just WOW.

Great job J & Jen....great job.

Seriously, I'm at a loss.

Penny said...

I have been shamefully remiss with Oee in this area.

You are such an inspiration, Jen.

J Fife said...

Go M! Nice job mom and dad. I love that you took her seriously and made the contribution immediately. You gave her a precious gift.

Lucia said...

I like what bubandpie said. If this is a child's instinct, encouraged by good, compassionate parents, then it's inside everyone. And if that's true, there's hope for the world.

meno said...

That is wonderful.

You are an amazing mom and M is an amazing girl and J is an amazing dad. You are all so lucky.

crazymumma said...

somehow I am not in the least surprised. Well, yes I am ...but still.....she is your child, so I am not totally shocked.

Mayberry said...

That's just beautiful. You have every right to be proud and amazed.

KC said...

Bubandpie, Lucia: YES YES YES.

I cannot believe the person you are helping to create, Jen.

Honestly.

It gives me chills.

kristen said...

She's an amazing kid, so much compassion and good in her heart, you and J must be amazingly proud.

QT said...

Let me tarnish your comments section yet again by saying Holy Balls! I agree with Lucia, it is in all of us and just need the right influences.

You must be so proud!

NotSoSage said...

I've returned and returned to this post today, not really knowing what to say, except that I am in awe...of M, of you and of J.

I just hope that we can nurture in Mme L the same compassion that you and J have nourished in M. I'm going to have to troll your archives for clues!

We did decide, long ago, after reading your post about it (I know the idea came from elsewhere) that she will receive Spend, Share and Save piggy banks for her 2nd birthday...

Laurie said...

That is incredible. You are so on the right track.

Em said...

I have to agree with MH... the apple doesn't fall far from the tree... what an amazing little girl you have!

Mrs. Chicky said...

I am amazed that she understood the meaning of money, or what money could do to help someone, but I'm not amazed at her empathy. You're her mother, right?

ecm said...

Wow! That's an amazing story! Talk about hope for the future...

Nancy said...

Wow. That is amazing -- wonderful that she can comprehend such concepts as a two year old (illness, charity, money).

And what a testament to you as parents that she has learned compassion and altruism, enough to begin practicing it at such a young age? Truly incredible.

Her Bad Mother said...

Wow. WOW.

But Bub said it best - why are we surprised when children demonstrate their kindness, their their big, open hearts? They have such big hearts; it's only up to us to nurture those big hearts.

Well done, you.

Lillithmother said...

Another mom with tears in her eyes...M clearly has your and J's compassion of mankind...pleas hug her for me?

Miss you sister...and zen happy to be posting and hanging with my blog'hood!

Li xo

radioactive girl said...

Are you really surprised that she would want to help? It seems she has a great example in you and is just following your lead in the right things to do.

Pendullum said...

Hopeu donotmind...
But I nominated u for a Share the love award...

Jenny said...

Beautiful and not surprising in the least. You are an inspiration...even a 2 year old can see that.

wendy said...

Wonderful! Incidentally, that is the very first charity my Girlie gave to as well.

De Aufiero said...

Just beautiful.

flutter said...

I just love her so much, and you and J for shaping her.

Mad Hatter said...

Back again. I know that you find her ability to understand the role and significance startling. I do as well. She does, however, live in a family where dad and daughter look at Time magazine together (now that's startling) and where both her parents are acutely aware of the imbalances that money creates in the world. I think that M is learning early and learning well.

Mad Hatter said...

doh! "role and significance of MONEY" is no doubt what I intended to write.

Oh, The Joys said...

That is brilliant. It's because you're a great mom!

jen said...

Mad,

We only show her TIME so to teach her say YUCK every time she sees Bush's face. It's just a small way we amuse ourselves. (no preconditioning there, right...)

Wacky Mommy said...

That is the coolest thing I've heard in a long time.