Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Cherries and chicken nuggets

So, I have this really amazing friend who is raising this really amazing daughter. For her 6th birthday, she decided instead of presents, she would ask everyone to donate money to for a local horse rescue organization. She raised over $200 for this organization. For her 6th birthday! In lieu of presents!

Here she is giving her raised money to the Healing Horses organization.

I know. Amazing, right?

Well, I was relaying this story to Cory a couple weeks ago. I told him that I thought it was incredible that she would give up presents to raise money for charity. I also told him that it made me feel like a schmuck. We need to get better at teaching the girls about charity, we're bad parents, we're raising selfish children, yadda, yadda, yadda.

At which point, Molly, who always seems to be able to hear private conversations Cory and I are having, yet cannot hear when I tell her for the 15th time to put her shoes on, asked what charity was.

Ok, I thought, great teachable moment. I'm going to be this awesome mom who explains charity in such a way that my 4-and-a-half-year-old child will be so inspired that she will dedicate her life to making the world a better place for those less fortunate. My explanation is going embolden and motive her so much that she will become the Mother Teresa of the preschool set.

Only ... it comes out kind of confusing. Apparently. Charity, I start explaining, is using money or time or your work to help people who need help. It can be buying food for people who don't have enough, or giving money to hospitals that are taking care of sick children. Or, it can be taking care of animals who don't have homes. Basically, charity is all about helping people. Or animals.

Molly thought for a second. "Hmm, I think I'm just going to put my money in the bank and save for college. That's what daddy always tells me to do."

Argghhhh, Cory! Darn you and your teaching of fiscal responsibility!

"Well," I explain, "it's very good to save money, but you can also give some of the money away to charity. It's good to help people who need it. Plus, it doesn't always have to be money, it can be giving your toys to kids who don't have any or even spending time cooking to feed people who don't have enough food."

I'm not sure why I thought using cooking would be a good example of charity. You know the saying, 'Charity begins at home?' Yeah, well, I can assure you, Molly does not see a lot of me cooking at home. Or, really, any cooking from me. Unless you count making cereal, chicken nuggets or Easy Mac. Which I do. Count as cooking, I mean. Although, I'm not sure you can really give a bowl of cold cereal to people and consider it "cooking" them a meal. But, you've got to understand, I was panicking. My inspirational speech was not turning out very inspirational after all.

Molly was looking more confused and less convinced. I could feel my brain turning to mush, and nothing was coming out quite right. I'd put too much pressure on my amazing speaking abilities. This is why I'm a writer! I need time to write and rewrite and edit to get my point across. If I kept talking, somehow she would end up wanting to feed her unwanted vegetables to animals in a children's hospital and call it charity. I decided maybe I should drop it. I could regroup and try again another time.

All right, fast forward to a few days ago. We're driving around in the car, as we are wont to do, and Molly pipes up from the back of the car. "Mommy," she said, "for my next birthday I want cherries." Now, being just finished from planning the giant Elmo party for Charlotte's birthday, my mind immediately goes to themes.

Hmmm, I thought. Cherries. I can work with that. I mean, I didn't know Molly particularly liked cherries. I thought she was more of a strawberry girl, but I can work with cherries. We could have lots of cherry desserts. Cherry tarts. Cherry pie. Cherry jubilee. Cherry cheesecake. I'm sure I could find an adorable cherry shirt on Etsy. We could decorate using red, green and white as the main colors, and could make it kind of an outdoor party with cherry blossom flowers. I can do this. Pinterest, here I come!

While my mind is wheeling away, I hear from the backseat, "I want to have cherries for my party, just like Mallory." Yeah, Mallory is the amazing little girl from above.

"Wait." I said. "Do you mean charity?"

"Yeah, charity!"


POP! went the idea bubbles floating above my head. All the amazing cherry-themed party planning screeched to an abrupt halt. But, this was great news! Maybe the talk had worked after all. Maybe my tangents hadn't been that confusing. Maybe she was going to be the Mother Teresa of her class. I wasn't such a failure of a mother. Something had gotten through!

"So, you want to have everyone to bring money to give to charity instead of presents?" I asked, to make sure she knew what she was talking about.

"Yes," Molly replied.

"That's great, sweetie. What kind of charity do you think you'd like to raise money for?" I asked, feeling so proud and happy.

Molly thought.

"I want to give all my money to McDonalds because I really like their chicken nuggets."

I could not believe what she just said. Yet, there was no way I could've made it up. Chicken nugget charity? Really?!?  I mean, I guess that's what happens when you spend almost the entire confusing charity discussion talking about cooking for the less fortunate, yet don't actually cook yourself. And, also, apparently, she likes McDonalds chicken nuggets better than mine.

Parental double fail.

So, maybe I should lower my expectations from Mother Teresa to preschooler-who-understands-concept-of-charity. It might be a slightly more achievable goal. Definitely more achievable than me ever becoming a motivational speaker. We all gotta know where our strengths lie. And, mine? Clearly they do not lie in speeches.

So, how about chicken nuggets for dinner, anyone? The rumor around town is they are good for you, your soul and charity. That's what I've heard, anyway.


  1. Another wonderful post!!!!! You really need to write a book!!!!

    P.S. The LAST thing you are is a parental failure!!!!!!!!!!

  2. That is hilarious!

    It was nice getting to chat with you some today at Renew!