I recently got a book from the library from one of my favourite children’s series -“The Berenstain Bears” – titled ‘The Berenstain Bears Get the Gimmies‘ and I tried explaining to them that sometimes it is good to replace the act of taking with the ‘act of giving.’
Of course, no child ever learnt such values through theory alone. So, I have now embarked on the journey to teach this through a more praxis-oriented approach. The first opportunity came my way yesterday in the form of my uncle’s birthday. My kids typically associate birthdays with only four things: party, pizza, cake and return gift. So, when I called my uncle over for lunch yesterday with no balloons adorning my walls, no creamy cake / pizza (thanks to Messrs Cholesterol and Diabetes), no return gifts and no games – they were flabbergasted.
That’s when I set to work. I sat down with my daughter to design a greeting card, and sent off my son with some money from his piggy bank to buy a nice pen for my uncle. After an hour of messing around with sketch pens, paint and stickers and agonizing over the mental calculations regarding the change the shop-keeper should have given back, the gifts were ready : a simple colourful card of 58 apples (my uncle turned 58 yesterday) and a classy Parker pen wrapped in shiny green paper. Soon, the magically happy feeling that ‘giving to others’ creates within you started working its charm on the kids. To recompense for the absence of the birthday cake, they took inspiration from their favourite TV Show ‘Junior MasterChef’ and decided to conjure up their own desert. A big glass bowl packed with layers of sponge cake, fruits, dry fruits, cookie crumbles, condensed milk and chocolate syrup was thrust in the fridge to set, minutes before the ‘birthday boy’ walked in.
The joy that my uncle experienced when he saw the beaming faces of my children as they gave the simple home-made card and gift and showed off their ‘desert creation’ was well worth the effort.
As we try to raise our kids amidst the blurring lines between ‘must-haves’ and ‘nice-to-haves’, little things do go a long way in showing them the importance of the ‘ART of GIVING.’