We all like to think that we are instilling in our children the seeds of human compassion. And, that when they get older, they will rise to the occasion to help out their fellow man and try to make a difference in this world by doing what they can. We can’t be sure if we have taught them that when our focus is always on so many other things we need to teach them. I guess we have to hope that somewhere along the way they will develop that desire to help and act on it.
Yesterday, I found out quite by accident, that my older daughter has sponsored a child in a third world country through Children International. She has committed herself to paying twenty-five dollars a month so this child can have an education, medical care, clothing, food etc. This isn’t her first act of charity. When she was in college, her professor mentioned an organization that lends money to people in third world countries who are trying to start a business. They charge them no interest, just ask them to pay back the loan when they can. The people borrowing the money, pay it back to the organization in small increments. When the loan is repaid, the lenders can opt to loan the money out to another individual or take it back. My daughter, still a student at the time, decided to open an account with them for $25. She told me the loan has been repaid four times already and she just continues the lending cycle.
When I first found out that she had sponsored a child, I was concerned. She has been trying to save money to move out on her own one day. Right now she isn’t even making enough to support herself independently. I thought she should wait until she had established herself first before making such a commitment. She told me that she would rather do this than to go see two movies a month. That’s what it boils down to. As she told me how her money was going to help this child, she had tears in her eyes. She said, this means she will be able to see a doctor if she gets sick. To lighten the mood, I said, she will be able to see a doctor, but I am still waiting for your dental form so I can make you an appointment with the dentist…at least she will be able to see a dentist thanks to you! She laughed as I pointed out the irony; I have asked for this form for a month now.
In any case, as we talked she said the words that touched my soul, “I just want to make a difference.” That’s exactly what I always say. Unlike my daughter though, it took me years to come to that realization. I never thought about it or considered it at her age. Then I thought of all the good she would do in her lifetime because she has such a compassionate heart.
I expressed my concerns to my husband as I told him about our daughter. He said to me, maybe it’s because we are so compassionate and want to help others, that she has this quality. Maybe she got it from both of us. I agreed, maybe she did and she really needed to do this. I guess the apple didn’t fall far from the tree?
Right now, I want my daughter to know how proud I am of the person she turned out to be. She has made me proud every moment of her life. From her earliest days to the present, it’s been a joy and a privilege to be her mother. When she was two years old she once said to me, “When you get little mommy, I’ll take care of you.” That made me laugh as she had no concept of aging. When she was in second grade and saw new curtains on my living room windows she was appalled. “How can you buy new curtains when there are homeless people in the world? At least we have a home.” In seventh grade she heard about a classmate from elementary school who got some mysterious illness that he almost died from, but left him unable to walk. His medical bills were enormous and there was a fund raiser to help the family. When she heard me talking to my husband about it, she went and took all her money she had saved and gave it to me. “Add this to your money Mom, and send it to Danny.”
My little girl, who was in the gifted program in elementary school with an IQ of 152; who graduated Valedictorian from middle school; who got into a prestigious high school and earned full scholarships to two colleges; and graduated college with highest honors in a double major of Communications and English with a over a 3.9 average, has always made me proud. But yesterday, when she said to me, “I just want to make a difference,” I think that was my proudest moment of all. Somewhere along the way, she picked up life’s most valuable lesson or maybe it was just in there all along? After all, I never heard of any other child reprimanding their mother for wasting money on new curtains. I should have realized then, that she had a very compassionate heart.
When they say children are a “blessing,” that word alone cannot begin to express the joy, the love, the many ways they enrich our lives or the lessons that we can learn from them.