12 December 2011
unschool monday :: money + giving
The concept of giving to others has been a tricky one for our owlets to grasp. They generally have everything they need or want. And when there's something they feel they need, we try to help them get it. They are very fortunate. On the occasion where we can't find a way to provide what they feel they need, there have been tears. And a need for perspective. And slowly, slowly their consciousness of the world outside theirs is growing... They are beginning to understand the importance of caring for others, sharing and giving.
They understand well how to give to family and friends. They enjoy watching the surprise or happy face of a friend or family member opening a gift, or card they've worked on. But days in town tend to turn my happy owlets into a pair of Veruca Salts. I have a choice to either avoid town altogether, max out the credit card, or maintain an open dialogue about money and spending and budgets and, when they are dismayed about it or lamenting a lack of money, discussing with them the reality of poverty while empowering them to be responsible for their own financial situation.
In our nest, we have a formula for pocket money that applies to each of us, even me and Huz. We receive our age in dollars, minus one dollar per week. That dollar is placed (theoretically) aside for the end of the year when we donate it to a charity of our choice. This year we did it properly for the first time and I think the owlets are understanding the concept of giving to others, and what you can do with money when you save it.
The other morning, the advent activity was Giving Day. The owlets excitedly prepared to be given to. Faces dropped when we told them that wasn't happening. They were the ones doing the giving. It didn't compute. We issued each owlet with a token for their saved amount, which they could spend on the charity of their choice. Then we discussed some options with them. They were both taken with the Oxfam Unwrapped catalogue*, Big Owlet choosing a family of chickens and Little Owlet choosing a piglet for families in Laos. With the left over money, they decided to go and purchase a gift to place under the ABC giving tree, to be redistributed to families in time for Christmas. This was particularly difficult for Little Owlet, who would have dearly loved to keep what she chose. But when the ABC helpers removed the gifts shortly after we placed them there, she was thrilled. And so excited for the child who would receive that gift on Christmas morning. The one she chose for them. She made a difference to someone's day, and that felt good.
*Huz and I also chose a gift from the catalogue. Helping create Aboriginal women's circles. Something close to my heart, having witnessed the healing power of women's circles and extending that to people within our community who could really benefit from them.