Sunday, December 18, 2011

Good kids

I'd love for my kids to grow up to be rich, successful doctors. I'd be thrilled if they made it into the best colleges and earned big paychecks and were the smartest people around. But that's probably not going to happen (at least not entirely), and I don't have much control over it either. But one thing I do have at least a say in is how they learn to treat other people.

Though I grew up in a very homogeneous town, I grew up to be open-minded and accepting. My parents did it subtly, but I always understood that everyone deserved to be treated with equal respect regardless of any perceived differences.

I am determined that my children will grow up with the same guidance. I want my boys to be respectful of women and Lena to believe she can be anything she wants to be. I also want them to understand that they have a lot of advantages and not everyone has all the things they have. I want them to see giving generously as just a part of life. I want them to feel a passion for social justice and an obligation to pull up others who have fallen down.

This is a tall order of course considering they are just one, three, and five, but it's never too early right? And I feel that I also need to make helping people around me a structured part of life. Too often you give of yourself only when it is convenient. So T and I have decided to volunteer or donate or do something every month to remind us that we are part of a larger community, and we are all in this together.

We started in September. That first month, we printed out a list from the Humane Society, went shopping at the pet supply store, and dropped off our donations. We also took a little tour and resisted bringing home any new pets.

In October, I had an already-scheduled charity event for a women's fund, so I wrote an extra check. In November, we signed up to be bell ringers.

We really guilted some people into giving with this line-up. We tried to explain exactly what we were doing and why. I think Q started to get it, though R was more interested in helping to shove money into the kettle, and Lena just liked shaking the bell.

In December, T took the boys to Toy R Us to pick out gifts for Toys for Tots. That was a big test of course, as the boys get manic when they enter a toy store. They did a good job selecting their toys and did  eventually hand them over.

Especially this time of year when the kids become greedy little devils demanding everything they see advertised in colorful newspaper inserts or on television commercials, I want to make sure they are learning what we really value. If they grow up to be caring, generous adults, I will know I was a good mother.


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