Kindess for Charlie this year is having a little bit of a rough start.
I’m very enthusiastic to start thinking of and executing small and not-so-small service projects in honor of Charlie’s birthday coming up in less than a month. I love this tradition as it helps me feel that I am giving gifts to my angel son, when he isn’t here to unwrap birthday presents himself.
This year I really want to get Hailee more involved. I feel like she’s at an age where she could grasp the concept of service more and in my fantasy world, she’d be super enthusiastic to do good for others and brighten their days! I keep bringing up with her that we should make a list of service activities we can do…but her enthusiasm is less than desired.
No matter. I figured for sure, if we started on one project, Hailee would catch the spirit of service. For our first project, I chose an awesome service opportunity: Operation Christmas Child. Perfect! Hailee could choose gifts to fill a shoe-box for an underprivileged girl, just her age, in another country! I really talked this up and tried to communicate to Hailee how happy this will make some little girl in need.
I also planned on doing two more shoe boxes: one for a boy Charlie’s age and one for a girl Cami’s age.
I took the girls with me to Target this week to pick out toys and other items to put in the shoe boxes. Almost immediately upon entering Target both girls started clamoring for what they wanted for themselves (Cami shouting for a Barbie and Hailee asking for almost anything in sight). I reminded Hailee we were shopping for an underprivileged girl for Christmas, to which she became very grumpy and responded, “But why? Santa will go to her house too!” Hmm, good point Hailee…how do I get around that?
As we shopped, Hailee and I both became very frustrated. Hailee was melting because I wasn’t letting her get toys for herself, and me because Hailee was just being self-centered and entitled. Cami, I didn’t expect to have any idea about what was going on and she was content enough as I let her put a Barbie in the cart (sorry Cami, Barbie will be sent away in a shoebox to someone else but I’ll let you think it’s for you! Muhahaha).
The shopping trip was miserable. Hailee did pick out some items for her shoe box, but the items she chose, she chose largely without more than a cursory glance. But I kept them because I wanted Hailee to feel ownership of the project and know that a little girl is getting toys that she chose for her. I hope a little girl in an underprivileged country will like getting a Lego Friends kit of an airplane with flight attendants! Will that little girl even know what an airplane is? Oh well.
In the end, I ended up allowing Hailee to get one small present for herself…a reward she certainly didn’t deserve and I regret giving. But I also was desperate for her to want to do service and is it manipulative to reward her for doing service?
While I found myself quite frustrated, even angry, with Hailee for being so self-centered, another voice in my head said, “the person you should feel frustrated with is yourself.” Hailee is just six. If she’s self-centered, that’s because we have spoiled her. It’s not like she will intrinsically get the joy of service. And it’s my job to teach her.
But how?! How do I help Hailee be less spoiled and more thoughtful?
I’m going to keep trying to keep Hailee involved in Kindness for Charlie 2015. Maybe I need to make her service projects more directly concrete and observable. Maybe she can’t grasp that somewhere, in another part of the world, she is helping a little girl without toys or even a soft bed to sleep in. Maybe I need to focus on helping her do service for people we interact with and see on a daily basis? I’m open to ideas here!
While Kindness for Charlie is off to a little rocky start, I’m excited to send these shoe boxes to brighten Christmas for three little children in need! And as we dropped the boxes off to a church in Salt Lake to be delivered, I could tell Hailee felt good about being a part of something so special.