Snow sledding, sandwiches and generosity

Bread and cheeseYesterday my 9-year-old daughter came home from school, went directly to the kitchen and immediately started making a lot of sandwiches.

– “That’s a lot of sandwiches”, I said to her.

– “Yep, we’re eight friends who are going to the hill and have fun snow sledding, and we need to have something to eat”, she replied.

– “But aren’t the others going to bring something too?”, I asked.

– No, some of the girls forgot their keys home, so I said I’d do it”, she stated, and started making some warm chocolate also, soon pouring the warm liquid into a thermos.

Today, the story repeated itself, although this time she didn’t make as many sandwiches.

– “Well, I’m meeting up with a couple of friends at the hill, and I’m going to bring some sandwiches and hot chocolate.”

Seeing our supply of bread, chocolate, milk, cheese and ham disappearing in an unusually high rate, considering also that she often does like this, I told her:

– “You can’t do like this every day, you know, you have to talk to your friends so they can help too. You understand that, don’t you?”, and I went on in that manner.

– Sure dad, I understand. I’ll think about that the next time.

A couple of hours later, I was taking a shower after a jogging run, thinking about my generous daughter, smiling to myself when I saw the image before me of her having fun in the snow, eating sandwiches with her friends, being happy.
And it just hit me! What on earth am I doing? I have a generous daughter, who really cares about others, and I’m telling her to stop being like that?! I felt like I wanted to slap myself hard in the face.

She came back half an hour later, all wet from the snow, with cold, rosy-red cheeks and in the best of moods.

– “Did you have fun”, I asked her.

– “Yes, we had great fun, dad, but you know about the sandwiches; we didn’t eat them all ourselves”, she said in almost a guilty tone. “There were a couple of boys who didn’t have anything with them, so I invited them to have some of our sandwiches”.

– “Well, about the sandwiches”, I said, “Forget what I said about not sharing like you’re doing. That was just stupid grown-up stuff. In fact, I am enormously proud of you, that you’re so generous and caring. From now on, I’ll buy some extra bread, milk and chocolate, so you can do it your way. Maybe next time you can have some extra ones with you. I know you can think for yourself. You’re a fantastic person.”

Well, I’m off to buy some more bread and cheese. I do want to be more like my daughter, and the very least I can do is to never take this away from her. I think the marketshare of people who only think of their own gain is pretty much saturated by now.



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