“The Little Children”

E is very concerned lately about all “the little children” that don’t have what we do.  I don’t want to make her fret about suffering in the world but we do look at pictures from my brother’s post in Afghanistan and we talk about the reconstruction efforts over there.  She sees little kids in the photos and really identifies with them.  When it came time to send my brother a packet of treats she wanted to draw a picture for “the little children” as she calls them, since “they don’t have any art on their walls.”  I think she extrapolated that from thinking about the things we have that others don’t since she also speculated that we should give our toilets to them because they might not have any.

I took a picture of her artwork and let her know as we packed it up to send away that maybe her uncle wouldn’t be able to give it to the children.  She still wanted to try.  I love her sweetness and compassion, it makes me think that children have to learn to be otherwise since it really feels like something that comes from within her versus something we’ve taught specifically.  I am thinking we’ll gather some toys for tots this winter as well as some materials for Shade Tree (a local shelter) to start to give her an idea of service.  Just sending money is not enough, I think, though she does like to look through the Save the Children catalog and ask about the different donations you can give.

Sort of related:  We went to see about a new tube for the bike trailer the other day and many of the boxes were empty.  My husband speculated that kids stole them for their BMX bikes and E really had trouble understanding the idea of stealing.  We talked about it for a while after we got home, she said that maybe little children didn’t have money but they wanted to ride bikes.  I said that may be true but it was not nice to take things without paying, they should save their money.  She suggested that maybe their mommies and daddies didn’t have money, but then agreed that it wasn’t okay to take without paying.  Her main question always is “why?” and in this case she wanted to know why people steal.  I generally answered that they were taught that way, hoping that it doesn’t seem like a rote response but hoping also that she understands that people are complex.  She tied the plight of children that didn’t have anything with the idea of children stealing things so she was worried for them.  Personally I have a huge problem with theft, just the idea of taking something knowing it isn’t yours really bothers me.

To end on a happier note, my brother loved the packet and appreciated the drawing E made just for him.  We can’t wait until he is back in the states so we can visit him.

5 thoughts on ““The Little Children”

  1. Thank you for sharing this. It’s very touching. What a good heart E has.

    When my kiddo was 4, her preschool teachers told her about the earthquake that had devastated Haiti. She was completely heartbroken, and she and her classmates decided to donate the Tzedakah offerings they’d been making weekly to the children of Haiti. Even now, nearly 2 years later, she still talks about it.

    I think that this topic touches on one of the most difficult aspects of being a parent: How much do you reveal the truth of the world to your child, and how much do you protect her from it? It’s a question I continue to struggle with.


    1. You are so right about the struggle – I don’t want my kids to be fearful especially since there is good in so much of the world but I think kids are sharp and inquisitive such that I need to satisfy the “why?” questions. I wonder when and how I will tell her about history, even. We read an American Girl book set during WWII and in the back there were real photos of the major players. Explaining even a little about what happened was hard but she seemed to absorb it ok. She thinks soldiers help people but I think at 3 that is an ok perception. Growing up is about learning nuance, I guess, but I still feel like a kid sometimes!


  2. You are raising a child with a tender heart. I know from close experience that this can feel painful when she perceives suffering but our world can benefit from her empathy. Thank goodness she’s blessed with such an aware and caring mom.


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