Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The Right Thing

Greta, who is 7, is learning about money. She gets an allowance every week for doing her chores, but she's always looking to score a little extra cash by doing jobs around the house. She saves up her money to buy Webkinz at Target, where they cost $10.

Yesterday afternoon she asked what she can do to earn $5 - more than we usually give her for chores around the house - so I had to think up something good.

"You can clean up the playroom AND your bedroom," I said. "And really clean them, don't just shove stuff in closets."

Ordinarily this sort of request is met with whining and complaining, but yesterday she just nodded and set about cleaning both rooms for over an hour. They were a complete mess, and she put away every toy.

After she finished she brought me my wallet and I gave her $5.

Half an hour later, she came up to me with $10 in her hand - all of her savings. It had taken her about a month to get this much, and I expected her to ask to take a trip to Target to buy a Webkinz.

"Here you go, Mom, " she said, and handed me the money.

"What's this for?" I asked.

"I want to give this money to the women you're helping in Boston," she said. "I want to help them have Christmas presents this year."

My jaw dropped. I serve on an advisory board for a rehabilitative house in Boston that helps women struggling with addiction. There they get sober, have a safe place to live, find jobs and get their lives back. Every year they have a little Christmas party, and they give each woman a gift card to Walmart. After Christmas, the counselors and their clients take a road trip to the nearest Walmart so they can use the gift cards to get new clothes, or buy some much needed supplies. I had been talking to Steve about all this yesterday, and I didn't realize Greta was listening.

"Can we go to Walmart, buy a gift card and mail it to them today?" she asked.

"It is really nice of you to help them," I said. "It takes you a long time to earn $10, and to give it to someone in need is really special."

"It's okay," she said. "I can always earn more money, and I want them to have a good Christmas, too."

My heart swelled. I'd love to take all the credit for her generosity, her big heart, but this one is all her.

"We'll go tomorrow, I promise."

"Will they know it is from me?" she asked.

"I'll make sure they do, honey. I'm sure they will be very grateful."

She smiled. "I can't wait to tell my friends I helped someone," she said softly. "Do you think they will be proud of me?"

"I'm sure they will," I replied. "But you should feel really proud of yourself, too. Do you?"

"I guess so," she said. "It just feels like the right thing to do."

"It is, honey," I said. "It is."


  1. Greta is a sweet, sweet girl. Even with all your worries about being a good mother, you have to know that a girl like that doesn't just happen- you've done a great job raising her to be so wonderful. Since she was a baby, I've had trouble typing her name- it always comes out Great ... I think that applies especially well today :) She is pretty great!

  2. Wow ~ I have goosebumps. The promises do come true. When I worry about if I am a good mother, I remind myself that I am a good mother today. They see me being present for them and helping others. They no longer see me talking and not making sense or stumbling around the bedroom. Another great day to be sober!

  3. This is the exact kind of thing I hope to instill in my boys. A love of mankind, taking our extra and taking care of others too. Good job, Momma!

  4. I need a tissue. Good tears though. Be proud, mama!

  5. The apples don't fall far from the tree. Thanks for sharing!

  6. AWESOME! How proud you must be :)

  7. Wow! That's an impressive thing for such a young girl to do! Greta is a very special person. Other kids just don't think like that.

  8. WOW. that is awesome. give her a hug from me.

  9. She is special. And you have nurtured that. She sees that you are helping and wants to as well.

  10. That brought tears to my eyes. You're doing a great job with your kids!

  11. You think that it's all her, but it's not. She's been marinating in compassion for some years. Good job family!