Share and Share Alike

We are talking quite about the spirit of sharing these days.  Not only to keep the peace at home — which is important — but also because it’s the Season of Sharing, right?  It’s the time when we Do for Others, yes?

LittleMan says, “I love Christmas.  It’s my favorite holiday.”
I say, “Because of the peace, love, and joy?”
“Because of the TOYS, Mommy!”
“OH!  The toys, of course.  I thought it was because of the lights and the music and the foresty smell of the tree in the livingroom.”
“I like all those things, Mommy.  But I really like the toys too.  I want ALL the toys.”At this point, I have to level with LittleMan, because he’s not kidding: he does want all the toys.  He wants the Star Wars toys and the Toy Story toys and even the Disney Princess toys and the crap novelty toys they sell at Fisherman’s Wharf.  He’s been “putting it on the list” since at least October (“And not the list in your head, Mommy.  I need you to write it down.”).

So we have to be honest(ish) and say: “You have a LOT of toys on your list, baby” — all of them, as a matter of fact — “but you need to understand that Santa may only bring, like, 2 or 3 of them.”

While he mulls this over, I push the envelope a little bit.  “And you know, LittleMan, I think this weekend we should pick out some toys for the fire station.”

This perks him up.  “For me, too?”
“Nope, not for you.  For others.”

We do this every year, but LittleMan usually needs a week or so to process the details.Him: “But I want toys too.”

Me: “And you are
going to get toys on Christmas, you know that.”
Him: “I don’t WANT toys on Christmas.”  (Stomp.  Cross arms over chest.)
Me: “I am sure
Santa will find that information useful.  Saves him some trouble.  I
shall write him.”
Him: (Pause.  Panic.) “I mean, I do want toys on Christmas.  But I also want toys when we go to the fire
Me: “Not all
children are as confident about their Christmas toys, LittleMan.  Not all
children are as lucky as you are — as we are — to have so much and to be able
to give so much.”
Him: “But I want
Oh God.  I am a terrible parent.
But a few days later, LittleMan asked, “Can we go to the fire station this weekend?  I want to see if Rudolph is leading the sleigh on the lights this year.”We probed: Was he ready to pick out some toys for other children?  Yes.  Was there going to be a tantrum of any kind?  No.  Did he understand that tantrums will not be tolerated in the fire house?  That firemen do not like tantrums?  That Santa is watching?  Yes. Yes.  Wait, how is Santa watching if I can’t see him?  He has a big telescope.  He’s watching.  But I can’t see him.  Oh good lord.  Moving on.

We stopped at the toy store, and picked out two Lego sets, which LittleMan clutched to his chest on the short walk to the station.  I was using my most-super-psyched Mommy voice to talk about how AWESOME the fire trucks are going to look and I am SURE they have Rudolph leading the sleigh.

And do you know what happened next?  Well, it was a gosh-darned Christmas miracle.  There were bubbles floating out of the fire station doors as we walked up, and kids running in and out between the trucks.  There was a bouncy house set up in the rear of the station, and music playing, and the smell of cotton candy being spun.

And I am not making this up!  This really happened!

We wandered into the fire station wonderland, LittleMan still clutching his toys, and we must have looked sort of stunned because a nice young man trotted over: “Hi, I’m Jay!”
“We’re here…” I started.
“We brought Legos!” shouted LittleMan.
“For the Toy Drive?  Thanks, buddy!”  And, with LittleMan distracted by the music and the smells and the bouncing, he took the toys right out of his arms.  “You know, it’s our Family Day today, and we got a bouncy house and some cotton candy being made, and you can just stay as long as you want.  And thanks for the toys.”

30 minutes later I extracted a sweaty, smiling, and disarmingly cooperative LittleMan from the bouncy house.  “You know, LittleMan,” I said as we walked out, “sometimes you do something nice for others, and the universe gives you something back.”
“What’s the universe?”
“It’s like the world, I mean the cosmos…It’s like karma…”
“And it’s giving me something?  What’s it gonna give me?”

This conversation was not going as planned.

“What I’m trying to say, love, is that you did something nice, and then something nice happened to you: you got invited to the firehouse party.  Sometimes life is like that.”
“Oh,” he replied.Pause.

“I thought you were going to say that the universe would give me toys.”

And we’re back!

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