Wednesday, January 13, 2010

The Things We Give Away

p Pictures, Images and Photos
Pink came home with a pencil from the school Treasure Box. The Treasure Box is part of a reward system to reinforce positive behavior in the classroom. She (darest I brag) is always in that Treasure Box because she is (oh yes, more bragging) a model little 5 year old citizen and (here I go again) a TREASURE to behold.

Can you tell I'm her Mom? I hope so.

So, she's showing me this pencil, with pride, but then tells me that she had initially picked out a DIFFERENT pencil - a beautiful, silvery one. She described it in detail with joy in her eyes and said she wished she still had it. She goes on to explain that her classmate Jessica, who was also picking out a treasure side by side with Pink, had gasped upon seeing Pink's pencil selection and had asked Pink if they could trade pencils so Jessica could have the silvery one. Pink must have hesitated, so Jessica begged: "I'll be your BEST FRIEND FOREVER if you give me your pencil!!!" Pink's eyes lit up when she relayed Jessica's message. Pink then finished her story: "So I gave Jessica my pencil and NOW WE'RE BEST FRIENDS FOREVER!!!" Her excitement could barely be contained. My own heart silently sank.

Stinkin' JESSICA!

While I'm sure Jessica is a typical and very nice 5 year old girl, I couldn't help feeling she just manipulated my little cupcake. It was just the confidence in which Pink took Jessica's "promise" that killed me. And, I'm not so sure Jessica even thought twice about what she was saying. She just wanted the pencil and for 3 seconds following her possession of the pencil she probably forgot all about Pink and her kind gesture.

Pink gives away and shares lots of things with kids. We never had to TEACH her how to share. She does it out of her own generosity or to cheer a child up if they are sad, hurt, or lonely. I have no worries about her sharing and showing kindness and generosity. In fact, I believe service to others and kindness in spirit is how we are meant to live. We find no happiness in being selfish creatures. The thing that disturbed me THIS occasion was not that she traded her pencil, which is so "Pink like" to do, but rather that she was a little "manipulated" out of it and it really highlighted to me Pink's sweet innocence.

So Pink gave away something she really liked and wanted for the insincere promise of everlasting friendship. It reminded me of how throughout our lives we give pieces of ourselves away. Cherished pieces. In hopes of love, friendship, acceptance, reward, value, material possessions. Sometimes the promise never is fulfilled. Sometimes we seek it forever, just giving pieces of ourselves away until we've disappeared. Sometimes the promise is realized, only to find we can't enjoy it because we've given so much away that's true and real that we scarcely recognize ourselves.

I think of all the decisions my girls will have to face. What they will give, barter, sell, and keep. I hope they keep the things that make them special. The things that make them who they are. I hope they learn quickly that the best relationships are with those who admire what you have, but want to bask in your gifts with you. Those who don't try to bargain, steal, or secretly covet your gifts, but appreciate and enhance them. Those are the people you want to have in your life, and the person you want to be. The ones who couldn't imagine taking your silvery pencil because they just saw the joy on your face when you held it.

13 comments:

Queenbuv3 said...

My daughter is almost 8 and very generous like your daughter is and sad to say other kids constantly try to take advantage of her and manipulate her. I and her father constantly remind her that real friends like you just for you and don't do mean things to hurt you.

It's so hard to see her learn what we had to-the hard way : (

Elizabeth said...

In third grade, Bonita wanted me to trade a tiny, perfect little monkey head sticker for her giant, ugly Superdog one. I said NO and she beat me up in the playground at recess (well, not technically beat me up, but socked me...).

Basically, it makes for a good story but I'm not sure how it molded my character. Pink sounds divine to me...

Nancy C said...

Miss Thing, you are an amazing writer. The last line blew me away.

In a world of "Toddlers and Tiaras," I am SO GLAD that women like you are raising awesome girls/women.

Mel said...

What a beautiful post! I still worry about how to teach my babies who've outgrown me to be a little stingy with themselves, to be wary of people who aren't true blue friends and how not to get hurt or lose themselves....it's a very hard thing to put into words, let alone a plan, and I worry about making them cynical or afraid, or worse yet, that I'm irrelevent in shaping them in the grand scheme of things. It's amazing once you become a parent, the little things that can just break your heart. I'd have already bought my daughter her dream pencil just to tip the balance back somehow...
Anyway, I loved the picture and the words.

Sunday said...

I love this post! Its so true of us as girls and then women.
I did the same thing as a little girl. I just wanted to have a "best friend". The price was rather severe.
I had to make fun of another little girl to earn this other girl's friendship. It was horrible.
In the end that other girl and I became real best friends and kicked that other little manipulative girl to the curb.

Tanya @ TeenAutism said...

Oh, it so bothers me when people take advantage of someone's kindness or trusting nature. I mean, I know the other girl is only 5 as well, but hey - Pink's too wonderful for that.

Alicia (aka Dr. Mom) said...

Elizabeth, do you want me to kick bonita's a**??? What a horrid little girl. Though Im sure she was quite troubled.

Leah said...

Amen!

kys said...

She is a child with a kind heart and generous spirit. It's hard to parent a child like that and worry about the cruel world, isn't it?

Corrie Howe said...

Although I understand your concern, I also see what this looks like in a 17 year old. I think he is naturally generous and want to share what he has. And while there is a promise attached sometimes, I think he's old enough and smart enough that he doesn't really expect the follow through. I think the act of giving more than pays him back. Because he's giving out of a pure and innocent heart.

Have you read the entire Harry Potter series? I was struck by out the last book we find out how the villain had been hiding pieces of himself all over the place, in the hopes of eternal life but in doing so, he ultimately died. And the hero, who was willing to give away his life was the one who ultimately lived. (Not unlike the story of Jesus.)

Just a thought from a mom with a similar child a decade later.

Alicia (aka Dr. Mom) said...

corrie - i do agree with you :). I'd much prefer my daughter to give. In fact, while I felt she was a bit manipulated I ultimately was proud of her for doing something to make ANOTHER happy. I guess I was making it more 'conceptual' - like i hope she never compromises her own INTEGRITY - she never gives away her beliefs, compromises her morals, etc. material possessions? who cares. Love? Acceptance? Help? YES - give away for we should all try to live to make not just ourselves happy, but enjoy the happiness of others. I was taking it to symbolic level - I hope she doesn't 'give herself away' for the wrong boy, or the wrong friend group... ya know? I hope she stays true to her sweet self :) The naive and the innocent often get tricked ;(

Jennie said...

What a beautiful story. I love it when kids are still untouched by the cynicism so many of us have acquired over the years. Let's hope the lesson that people aren't always genuine in their promises doesn't come too soon.

Though Pink may sometimes get hurt by being such a giving soul, I'm sure she will be repaid a thousand times over during her life.

Tina said...

....just remembered this post....my daughter has cried several times this month because of girl drama... I hate it. Kids can be mean... I wanna scream do you know how wonderful my daughter is you little sh*t.

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