Over Christmas break, we were sitting down after dinner one night playing Monopoly. My son became pretty obsessed with the game after seeing a commercial for it and he was beyond ecstatic that he found it under the Christmas Tree. As we playing, my kids were getting really wrapped up in all of the money they had. I don’t remember the exact amount that one starts out with nowadays, but it’s upwards of 14 million dollars.
My son was freaking out about that number and started chatting away about what he would really do with all of that money if he had it. Being a young boy, he happily mentioned that he would buy a mansion and a Bugatti. When I asked him what a Bugatti was, he stared at me in astonishment.
“Moooooom! It’s one of the most expensive cars you can buy. I think it’s like 1 or 2 million dollars.” Cue the enormous eyeball roll from my son who has just realized that his Mom knows nothing about cars.
Before I knew what was happening, I blurted out, “Well, if you have enough money to buy a mansion and a Bugatti, whatever that is, then you best be supporting some charities too because that means that you have more than enough money to spare.”
He looked up at me and said, “Well, what should I do?”
I know I really shouldn’t have been annoyed, but I said huffily, “Well, for starters, if you own a mansion and a Bugatti, then I sure hope you’ve reached out to your family first and made sure that they’re all taken care of. That means that you pay off everyone’s mortgages, set aside full college tuition for all of the kids, and make sure that everyone has solid health insurance. Then, if you still have more money to spend, before you buy your second Bugatti, you can start a charity that helps whatever you are most concerned about.”
He started laughing at me and said, “Mom. You’re being ridiculous.” And he was right. I mean, in all fairness, he was just a young boy fantasizing about all of his riches, but I couldn’t resist using this moment as an opportunity to talk about giving back to others. As I’ve mentioned before, our childhood home burned to the ground when we were little and without the kindness of our community, we would have been in dire straits.
So I chided myself on being so test, and said, “You’re right, honey. Mommy just really wants to make sure that you and your sister are always on the look out for ways to help others in need. It’s important for their well-being and ours because being charitable keeps us from being selfish.”
As they started buying up rental properties, railroads and utility companies, my daughter looked up and said, “If I have a lot of money when I grow up, I’m going to rescue dolphins.” Then she quickly bought Park Place. As she triumphantly smirked at her big brother, she said, “And I’d like to do something for sad kids – you know, like the kids you used to work with. Maybe I’d buy them a home to live in.” I gave her a squeeze and a kiss on the head.
My son landed on Reading Railroad, completing his RailRoad monopoly, and as he whooped in glee, “He said, okay Mom, if I buy a Bugatti, I’ll start a charity, and you can come work with me.” I laughed and agreed that I would work for him as long as I could build a community garden on the premises and teach people how to grow vegetables in tiny spaces.
When the kids came down to breakfast the next morning, I heard them talking about all of the things they could do to help others and my heart swelled.
Remember when we collected all of those shoes with Mommy and Aunt Daniele? Do you think those kids still wear them?
Remember when we bought chickens for that family somewhere far away? I bet they love scrambled eggs!!
Remember how we donated some of our toys the other day? Do you think they liked my Barbie doll?
I was embarrassed that I was so haughty the night before and their idle chatter reminded me of what big hearts my kids had. It reminded me that I’m on the right track and that they are learning how to pay it forward — and I don’t have to chide them about their fantasies of being a movie star and driving a Bugatti because in the end, I know they’ll do what’s right when the time comes.
So with this, comes a lovely giveaway from us, to one of you, from an organization that gives back to others too. One lucky winner will win (1) beautifully, handcrafted dish from the Heart of Haiti line at Macys, which enables artisans in Haiti to produce beautiful handcrafts that are then sold in department stores throughout the US. Partnered with Fairwinds Trading and BrandAid, artisans receive half the wholesale price of every item in the collection.
Be good, be kind,
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