I love the focus on giving at the holidays and the
focus on supporting the many, many worthwhile charities in our
community. I love that this is a time of year when parents seize
the opportunity to teach their children about the importance of
giving back and helping others.
A few years ago, I had that same intent. I took my
child to Target and had her pick out some toys that we would donate
to what is now the Lurie Children's Hospital. She took a very, very
long time deciding. And then she wanted some toys, too, so we had
to discuss the meaning of "giving" in the midst of a busy
Finally, we had several decent toys and I was
thinking, "This is going well! She's going to understand the
importance of giving!"
In the back of my head I thought about when I was
growing up. My dad was a high school principal and he would
mobilize the school to do all kinds of good work and fundraising
for our local children's hospital back in Ohio.
I felt like I was carrying on a family tradition. I
was feeling good about myself.
On the way to the check out line, we passed the
aisle with the wine.
I grabbed several bottles for hostess gifts and
continued to the check-out lane, feeling like a do-gooder, a decent
parent and a multitasker. Wahoo!
We drove to the hospital - where parking was less
than stellar. I knew that there was a nifty sleigh in the lobby and
that all we needed to do was to run in and drop our bag in the
With my kid's patience shot, I parked in perhaps
the not most legal spot.
Wanting my child to be the one to make the
donation, I told her to get the bag of toys. She was dawdling and I
impatiently told her to shake a tail feather. She scurried and we
were on our way.
We walked into the hospital, me holding my
daughter's one hand and her grasping the bag in the other. She
deposited it on the sleigh filled with stuffed animals and all
kinds of fun toys.
The staff kindly praised my daughter for her
donation and her act of giving. She told them she really liked the
items we had picked out and she hoped the sick kids would like
A few hours later, back at home, I went to wrap the
bottles of wine. I opened the Target bag and realized with horror
that it was full of toys.
At my insistence, my daughter had carried a bag
full of wine bottles and left them in the sleigh as a donation at
the children' hospital.
My child never said that the bag she was carrying seemed
extra heavy and I assume that I didn't hear the clinking of bottles
because she set it on a cushion of stuffed animals.
I was neither a decent parent nor a good multitasker. Actually,
I was a multitasker. I managed to combine a parenting and
a giving FAIL into one and I'm pretty sure my father would also be
a bit mortified by my mistake.
I was also not a do-gooder, although I really hope
those bottles made their way to a nurses' station or department
If you need help finding a way to give (and you
promise to be more responsible than I was), check out this great
post: Chicago mom:
A guide to volunteering and charity.
Although she’d like to be taller and have more time to dive into good books, Shannan is awfully happy with her life in the western suburbs, where she moved after a decade of living on the north side of the city. She blogs about parenting a tween at Tween Us on ChicagoNow and at Families in the Loop.
See more of Shannan 's stories here.
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