Wednesday, January 13, 2010
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.
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.