The giving spirit

The impulse to give sweeps over a child and they find a gift.

For my two year old, venturing out that spring day, the cheerful daffodils burst forth with color right at his level. As I chatted with the neighbor who planted the crocuses, he grabbed a daffodil in his little fist and pulled. The green stem yielded. He triumphantly toddled over and presented the flower to me.

I smiled with regret at the gift, “Thank you. It’s pretty, but we must not pick our friend’s flowers.” The old gardener never said a word. As a great-grandmother, she knew children.

As did the mother of Tyler, our three year old great-grandson. He came into the kitchen as I sat at the counter inspecting the colorful gift bag of treats she had given me and the Mother’s Day Card. “We are late and I didn’t get it mailed, but we were thinking about you,” she laughed when she handed it to me.

“No worry,” I said and opened the card.

That’s when Tyler walked in. He saw the card and bag in front of me and figured it out, “it’s your birthday?! I have a present for you,” he declared so excited to celebrate a birthday.

He walked over to the corner, climbed up on the counter and grabbed a wooden stand holding the outline of a dinosaur.

“I painted it for you,” he asserted handing me the blotchy colored piece of wood. He had used every paint color available to him that day The colors ran together into a purple swirl of colors.

“Happy birthday,” he was so proud to give me a craft he made all by himself. I laid it beside the bag of treats to take home.

Before we reached home, we stopped at my son’s house where Henry, 8, just celebrated his birthday. Flush with birthday money, he insisted he wanted to buy sweets for his family. His mother negated the bags of candy but okayed the purchase of one box of ice cream bars. Henry proudly handed one each of his siblings, his dad and his grandparents. “He always wants to spend his money on others,” his mom said.

I already had a hint of that. On the kitchen window ledge I have a tiny, plastic trophy and a tiny, plastic toy fish tank from Henry. The trophy declares me the number one Grandmother. The hand-size tank reflects his desire to share his fascination with the unique toy with us. I placed the dinosaur beside them.

I don’t keep every child’s gift on display. Some I store in a drawer of mementos. One I received years ago. During a visit, Basil silently held out a green yarn monster with blue sponge feet that he had made at church. He never explained. He simply handed it to me very seriously. I still have it.

I only have the picture of the day I came home from the hospital ready to introduce the new baby boy to his big brothers. All the boys gathered around. I wondered how the two-year-old would react to no longer being the baby. After all he still clung to a nightgown he had claimed as his comforter on sad days.

The baby stretched, opened his eyes, looked around and began crying. The two-year-old stared, turned and ran to get what the baby needed. He returned with the bright red nighty. Wordlessly, he thrust it at the newborn and watched expectantly waiting for the baby to calm.

That’s when I knew this big brother would be okay. He had quickly given his most cherished item as freely as only a loving child does when they feel that impulse to give.