Chicago mom fail: A cautionary tale of charitable giving

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 Target.

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 sleigh.

 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 them, too.

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 holiday party.

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.

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