Friday, April 1, 2011

A Lesson in Charitable Giving (from my 1st grader)

The 1st and 2nd graders at religious education class are in a battle to see who can bring in the most food in the upcoming month.  No, they aren't participating in a competitive eating contest... they're putting together donations for a backpack program for families in need.

I think it's great to teach kids about these types of things which is why I had my kids help me with the Random Acts of Zhu over the holidays.  It is important for kids to understand the concept of charity.

But Miss K, my 1st grader, threw me for a loop the other day on the way home from religious education.  She was bragging to Miss M about how much her class had already collected.  "(Jane and John Doe) brought in so many bags that their mom AND dad AND nanny all had to carry it in."  She proceeded to comment on how that's "TOO MUCH food."  

So while it was partially just a little good humor ribbing because she's competing against Miss M who happens to be in 2nd grade, I felt it was a good opportunity to paint a little different picture.

Me:  "Honey, there's no such thing as TOO MUCH food when you're donating it to people who don't have any.  Think about this... what if you woke up in the morning and there wasn't anything to eat for breakfast. Then at lunchtime, there still wasn't anything.  But at dinner, there was a can of soup. Just one that you and your sister and dad and I all had to share. But that's all we had."

Daughters:  "Ooh."

Me:  "That's the way it is for some people. They don't have enough money to buy food."

Miss K (in her most serious 'why do I have to explain this?' voice):  "MOM, they're spending too much money on WANTS and they should spend it on NEEDS."

She totally had me there.  I couldn't argue.  They've been studying the difference between wants and needs in school so she has obviously grasped the difference between the two.  While some families honestly have trouble making ends meet, others just make poor decisions along the way.  And I admitted to her that she was correct.  Some people do spend on wants instead of needs.  

Who knew a first grader could make such an observation? 

Makes me part proud... part sad.  I guess she's growing up.