I've been doing a little cleaning out and organizing around here lately. Some of the things that needed to go were the million stuffed animals cluttering Caedmon's room. I let him pick out his top 10 and told him we would give the rest to another kiddo who would love them and take care of them. He was a little resistant, but overall I thought he handled it really well.
Then, yesterday as we drove home from the Little Gym, Caedmon started asking for his "Little Lamb". (Little Lamb, unfortunately, did not make it into the Top 10 finalists.) I asked Caedmon if Little Lamb was one of the ones he kept or gave away. He insisted that he had kept it, but when we got home to look for him, alas, Little Lamb was not here. This brought forth a unceasing fountain of tears and much sadness for Caedmon.
It seems small. Almost rediculous. But Caedmon was truly sad and I wanted to seize the teachable moment.
I sat down on the floor with Caedmon and told him about a time when someone had given me some money to buy a present for myself. I was so happy to have the money and looking forward to buying myself something special with it. But one Sunday I was at church and I felt like God wanted me to give Him all of my money. There were some people that our church was going to help and they really needed the money much more than I did. I told Caedmon I was a little bit sad to give all of the money away because that meant that I couldn't buy a present for myself.
At this point in the story Caedmon, who had stopped crying and was intently listening, bursts into tears again and says, "I'm saaaaaad, toooooooooo! I waaaaaant my Little Lamb!"
I told him that I understood that he was sad because that's how I felt, too. "But," I told him, "when I prayed to Jesus and told him that I was sad, Jesus reminded me that when I gave the money to those people, I was really giving it to Him! Jesus was so proud of me and it made Him happy. So that made me happy, too!"
I'm not sure how much of this Caedmon was able to process, but it really did seem to aleviate the sadness for the time being. It was just a reminder to me that we have to be intentional as parents to build these character traits into our kids at a young age by seizing each teachable moment. Children have the potential to be rediculously selfish or extravagently generous. (So do adults!) We have to model the way for them.