Saturday, 15 March 2014

Generous to a fault?

We were on holiday with my in-laws recently. 

I know, lucky us.  No really.  It was Antigua.  Lucky us.

Anyway, my mother in law bought the children all a little token present.  A souvenir sort of thing.  S's was a necklace, made of shell, with a little dolphin pendant on it.  It wasn't expensive, but it was rather lovely: pretty and delicate, and significantly more tasteful than the ones either A or L chose.

Back in Blighty, Primary 1 are still working through their sounds, and this week's is ph.

Dolphin's got a ph in it.  said S, proudly, to me on Tuesday. That's why I took my dolphin necklace to school.
 It has, said I, encouragingly.  But where's your necklace now, S?
I gave it to my friend Molly.  She liked it so I said she could have it.

So I rang Molly's mother.  Who found it and promised to give it back.

We had Molly to play today, and I remembered the dolphin necklace when her mother came to pick her up. 

She'd given it back, apparently.  Or at least she'd given it to Molly to give back at school.

S, what did you do with your necklace?
I gave it to Annie.  Everyone really liked it and so I said Molly could have it first and then Annie.  Zoe's next.

So I texted Annie's mother.  Who rang back;  Annie is very distressed.  She has broken the necklace, and the dolphin has disappeared.

It doesn't matter really, it's not valuable, and I'm much more worried that Annie doesn't get into trouble for it, but what to say to S?

Because my immediate reaction was to tell her off for taking precious things into school and giving them away.  She can't do that, surely? 

But the more I think about it, the more proud I am of her.  She has something she loves but when someone else loves it, what is her reaction? She gives it to them.   That's more generous and less materialistic than I suspect I would be.

Actually, forget "suspect".  Than I know I would be.  Because although I have told S it was very kind of her to give it to both Molly and Annie, I've also told her that she's not to do it with anything else.

But I have a horrid feeling that was the wrong thing to say...


  1. Ah, such a tricky one. We spend all their pre-school years teaching them to share and be nice to everyone, and then we have to teach them boundaries and that it's ok to look after number one.

    Sounds like she has a sweet nature, but as you say, you might not want her coming home cold, having given away her jumper.

    What would you do if your nearly-teenage child came home with football boots that you know cost about 3 times what his did (because he has a football boots fetish and knows these things, and tells you these things), and says that a friend doesn't need them any more (though they are clearly very new)? You believe him, but you suspect there might be a little more to the story. You have no idea how to get in touch with the parents, and anyway, it wouldn't be the right thing to do because they need to sort it out themselves at that age, don't they?

    1. Is that an example picked entirely at random Ms Manhattan?

      But I can see if you can't get in touch with the parents it's very tricky. Fortunately in a town this size that's never going to happen.

      I think it's interesting though because I think it comes down to the source of the item - if he'd bought the football boots himself with money he'd earned from his paper round somehow that would be different from if they're the ones his parents have bought him for school.

      But then that becomes about money and earning and all sorts of things that my five year olds definitely don't get....

  2. I agree with Iota (not for the last time I'm sure) - it's a very tricky one. Maybe worth pointing out the consequences of lending it out, in that she doesn't have it anymore? Then she'll know that if she does it again she may well lose it again. If she's happy with that then maybe that's ok.

    I don't know - it's highly unlikely to happen with either of mine. H gets stressed at playdates at our house because he thinks that the other children are going to walk off with his toys and J's vocal now stretches to 'moo', 'oink', 'more' and 'mine'. So far 'share' and 'yours' are yet to feature...

    1. She's just clearly been very well morally guided. And not by me....

  3. I think it's a good lesson for her that sometimes when you lend things out they don't come back as they were given. But also...

    I've always been a 'keeper'. If I have something which I like very much and is important because I got it from my grandmother, or similar, it gets tucked away. Sadly I do not live in a castle with many rooms, and I have a toddler running around breaking things so there is a problem. I eventually run out of hiding spaces for these things and also think what good are they in a box in the closet, so I bring them out and they might get broken. It hurts a bit when that happens but honestly, it's just a thing, things can be replaced perhaps and I've had it x amount of years anyway. If I died and passed it on to my kids would they appreciate it as I did? No. So what is the point in hoarding it all away?

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