Ah, teachable moments. Don’t we just love them?
My daughter is usually a pretty giving person. But she’s 5 so that isn’t always on her mind. Let’s be honest: it’s not always on my mind either and I’m almost 30 (eek–that really is coming up soon, isn’t it?).
The other day, she got all huffed and puffed (no, she didn’t blow our house down) and she declared that her friend was getting a computer and it’s not fair that she doesn’t have her own computer too.
Yes, dear, because you’re 5 and you need your own laptop. Of course.
Let’s also keep in mind this is the same girl who, practically every morning, has nothing to wear and can only wear sandals in 40 degree weather. #itssohardtobefive
Enter teachable moment.
We talk often about not complaining about what we have and instead being grateful. I remind my kids that there are children who don’t get a choice of which shoes to wear (if they have any at all), both locally and across the world. But today was a little different. This was an issue of, “She has something and so I should have it too.” I know, it’s a long road ahead. I knew this day would come but didn’t think it’d happen this early. I remember vividly wanting certain sneakers and clothing as a preteen because that’s what others had. My mom simply said that if I wanted to spend $50 on a pair of sneakers then I could save up my money to buy them. The alternative was to spend the $20 she was offering up for a less expensive pair since my feet would be growing and I wouldn’t be in that size forever. Wise woman.
With the topic of the laptop, I sat my daughter down and explained that just because someone else has something doesn’t mean we need it too. Everyone has different things. I may have something that one of my friends doesn’t and vice versa. And that’s totally okay.
I then led this into a brief discussion on sharing what we have with others. We read in Acts 2 how the early Church would share their resources and they would give to those in need. So I explained to my daughter that by the kids sharing a computer with me, we then can save the money we would’ve spent on another computer and use it to help others. We talked about how when I have something that someone else doesn’t, I can share it with them. And when others have something I could use, they can let me borrow it. We do it often with friends and neighbors. I may not need a saw more than once in my life but my friend may need it often. So instead of buying my own, why not borrow it from my friend? And I may have a printer that they barely ever need so why don’t I allow my friend to print off some things every once in a while rather than them purchasing a printer for themselves?
I’m not just preaching something to my kid–I’m trying to live it. When we thought we were done having kids, we gave away a lot of our baby stuff and it went to people who truly needed it. When we found out I was pregnant with baby #4, I started to regret having given it all away. But my husband reminded me that God would provide just as He always has . . . and that He wouldn’t have put it on my heart to give the stuff away if there was a reason and purpose for it. Well, just this week, a friend gave me a ton of baby clothes/bibs/swaddles that she didn’t need. Just that morning I was thinking how I’d have to go out and buy something for the baby to wear for the cold weather and how I didn’t really want to spend $20-30 on something that he’d only wear for a short time but inevitably needs (and I found it super handy with my other son in the winter). Well, in with all those clothes was exactly what I needed. You can’t tell me that wasn’t totally a God thing.
Yes, sometimes sharing means that it is a little inconvenient. Maybe it’d be easier to just buy everything we need, even if it’s only for that one time. But what I think trumps the inconvenience is the fact that it brings us into community more. (And of course I love having fewer possessions in my home but that’s another thing altogether.) We are forced to interact with one another and live in community. It usually prompts discussions and check-ins and we find out more about the other person than we otherwise would’ve. We get a chance to step outside of ourselves.
So I shared with my daughter that for right now, she doesn’t need a computer.
Does she now have this grand appreciation for everything she owns? Does she have a heart full of gratitude and a desire to share all her possessions with others? Probably not. But it’s these intentional conversations we have with our kids over and over and over again that will hopefully result in some heart change.
Let’s set a good example and share what we have with others, building community in the process. And take advantage of these teachable moments with the kids in our lives because whether we realize it in the moment or not, it’s all getting inside those little hearts.