“Gimme got his neck broke begging from his kinfolks” ~ My Uncle Tee (everytime I asked for candy money)
Lil’ Miss. That’s my grandgirl and she is sweet as pie. No lie. I call her Lil’ Miss because she is very proper in her enunciations and very rational in her thoughts. She’s a wise little diviner of life’s truths. An ol’ soul I’d suppose. I will not brag on her much, but it’s important that you know that when I quote her these are her actual factual words.
So my precious dumpling is in the first grade. She is six. Her teacher has instructed that each student bring a gift for “needy” children. The class goal is to collect at least 10 gifts (which sounds low considering the are 16 kids in her class but heeeyyyy Mrs. Washington knows the parents as well as the kids). Failure to bring something will result in a 50% grade for participation. Lil Miss is not about that 50% grade life, so she lays out the particulars to her mom.
“Mommy, I need 10 gifts for the needy kids. Mrs. Washington said it’s our responsibility.”
“Well, 10 gifts is a lot. Why 10? How many gifts is your class trying to collect?”
“Well, she said the class goal is 10, so I want to make sure that we meet the goal. It’s sorta my responsibility.”
“Ummm, it’s not your responsibility to bring them all. Leave some for your friends to bring, but we’ll buy 4.”
“Good! So Mommy that means when I give these needy kids 4 gifts, I’ll get 4 gifts back?”
And that folks is the heart of a child! I know adults that still possess this same give so I can receive philosophy…. But I digress.
The great WIIFM!! What’s in it for me?!
So my daughter, Smooch, tries to explain that this is not a gift exchange. The collection of toys is for a donation. The intent is to give nice gifts to children who otherwise may not receive any.
“I like gifts too”, Lil Miss interjects.
“I know, but you have a Mommy and Daddy, and Sweet and Granddad, and Grandma and Grandmommy who will all buy you gifts. This is a good deed to help others not as fortunate.”
“I don’t think I’ll be very fortunate either if I don’t get presents back.” 😐
I think Smooch did good job providing a reasonable explanation and assurance to Lil Miss that she would not be forgotten. And I think the answer contained the right ingredients to introduce her to social inequalities and a civic reasonability to those who are victims of circumstances that they did not create. Children. Parents. Families.
I need to put a sidenote here: I do not like or appreciate the implications associated with the term “needy”. I get that it’s defined as “being in want” (thanks Merriam-Webster). The connotation is that these children want whatever little we can spare. It’s a feel good slogan for the giver. Removing themselves from these destitute “others”. The needy. Those people. Give not according to what you think these children want, but what you know is needful. Don’t purchase what’s cheap because you think the “needy” should be grateful. Buy what’s enriching so that the less fortunate can be uplifted. $5 can buy a knockoff Barbie whose knees don’t bend (ummm whack!) or a puzzle or coloring books and crayons. It’s not the money, it’s the good fortune to possess tools that nurture creativity. I full on digressed right there lol.
Soooo anywho…Smooch calls me so that I can help lead Lil Miss towards joyful giving. She was not having it though. We talked about how this is not a Christmas party, but a donation drive. I conveyed in every way possible that these children would not open the gifts in front of her. The presents would be distributed so that they can open them at home. We even went back through “it’s better to give than receive”. She was like “yeah soooo… I’m just saying that they should give me something too.”
That’s it! My nerves got tired, “Look little girl, these kids may have lost everything in the storm, including their school clothes, books, and toys. Their parents had to fix their houses and get new furniture. They don’t have money to be playing Santa right now. So you’re gonna have to step up and be their Santa instead.” Sheesh..🤦🏽♀️
“Oh. They need me to be their Santa?”
“Cus they still believe in Santa?”
“Oh ok, because I’d be really sad if these children thought that Santa forgot all about them. That would hurt my feelings that they’re hurt that way.”
Peace on Earth restored!
“But Sweet..I really do like toys too and I still think that I should get something for doing a good deed.”
Argh!! “Lil girl! I know you understand what I’ve been saying. You just don’t wanna do right!”
I hear a sigh..”I do wanna do right. I just can’t help it cus I like toys.”
“I like toys too sweetheart.” 😘