Random Thoughts: Give and Take


Another season of giving is here.  This time of year always strikes me as a bit comical.   So much focused energy on give, give, give that the spirit of giving loses its meaning.    This notion of giving and taking intrigued me today because I was thinking about something to write about.  I was thinking about how these actions are at some level taught – or at least the recognition of these actions are taught at some level.  I’ve long believed that some people are just natural Givers, and some are natural Takers.   But thinking about it more, of course there is a balance between the two.   We give and we take.   I was thinking about this and how I, as a “newer” mom, would like to teach these concepts to my own kids or at least influence how they learn about giving and taking.   What a great time of year to do this… but yet, this time of year is so focused, so concentrated, so frenzied…. The “Giver and Taker” lesson is one that is so much larger – one that spans years, if not a lifetime.  How one gives, how one takes, how these roles change given certain situations and relationships, over time as you grow through experience.

I’ve also been thinking of “give and take” a lot during the breakdown of my marriage and this entire past year of the divorce.   But that is a different discussion and don’t wish to focus on that today.

We teach our children how to be polite when they are in the roles of Takers — “please“, “thank-you“… it starts early and at a very young age.   I guess it is much easier to learn how to take than to give.  As infants, all they do is really take take take, right?   But then as these little beings age we also teach the virtues of sharing and friendship.   We teach the importance of communication – of talking and listening.    To me, happiness is seeing empathy from my kids and seeing the interactions they have with one another.   Seeing the give and take of communication, sharing, problem solving, and yes of course fighting with each other.   Someone may need help – the other sibling is there to offer help.   I guess it is this balance between give and take that I see in my children that really, really, really, intrigues me.   I will want to explore this further at some point….

So, back to my point.  I was originally going to post something that in retrospect seems so trite… I was going to write about and understand how other parents are teaching their kids the virtue of giving during the holiday season.  For example, going to soup kitchens, giving away favorite toys to those in need, shopping for Toys for Tots, etc.    But when I started to really THINK about give and take – and the complexity of roles, and how there is give and take all around you – and the importance of give and take over the course of a lifetime (and NOT just for one month of a year) – my original thought of a posting just seemed so ridiculous.

And then I was looking through the web for images for Give and Take and found an artist that I think is incredible.  Lorenzo Quinn.   Please visit Lorenzo Quinn’s website, particularly his Give and Take III series.    He is a sculptor and his work Give and Take III caught my eye.   It is beautiful.   It is human.    It softened me from my original standpoint of Givers and Takers.   I see that we are all givers and takers.   We are all at some point in a position where we NEED to take – where we need help.   There are lines in these hands.   There are years of living in these hands.   At some point, you become a Taker.   You need to be a Taker and accept the help of the Giver.   The hands are so close.   There is a connection between the two even though they are not physically connected.   This piece is just simply beautiful to me.   I am now a big fan of this artist.   And he did change the way I originally thought about Giving and Taking.   This has softened me and I am thankful for this influence.

“It is vital to find a balance in life. Nature has been trying to teach us that lesson since the beginning of time. All opposites meet in their extremes.

You cannot fully enjoy receiving if you have never given, because you will not recognize the gift you have received if you value only what is difficult to obtain.”

source:   Lorenzo Quinn website

So I think what I would like to do is actually just talk about this picture with the kids.  And talk about the giving and receiving – and how each of us does both of those things every day in our lives.   And give them examples in day to day life (e.g., “you tell me you are hungry, I give you a snack“; “your sister wants to play with your toy, you let her play with it“; “you see your brother needs help to push in his chair, and you push his chair in for him“, etc.).    And I think I will ask them that at this time of year, people enjoy giving things to others and also receiving what others want to give.   And I think that’s all I want to write about right now.    And yes, I probably will still do something like go shopping for Toys for Tots, or a kid polyeana or something, but honestly this concept of Give and Take is so compelling to me that I feel the need to explore further in my own thoughts and in my own relationships with others, and think about how I teach this to the kids.

What are your thoughts on this?   How do you teach your kids the deeper meanings of Give and Take, particularly during this time of year when it is overly-commercialized?

Thanks for listening –

– Mama K

Advertisements

Staying Sane: Developing Traditions


I’ve been writing about Chocolate Tuesdays in my daily journals and I also recently wrote about a rainy weekend when I took the kids out for ice-cream. I received a request from a fellow Mama to spend some time writing on this subject and also getting feedback from our Mama In Motion community on traditions that they do with their families, no matter how big or how small. This really does help keep sanity. It helps to promote stability and respect and positions the family as a unit, versus individuals “at odds” with one another. And this is perfect timing….

Some of our day-to-day traditions:

  • I do “hugs and kisses in the morning” each and every morning with each of the kids. When Big Bro and Red were little babies, I used to make a song of it; but now at least its a round of hugs and kisses for each child and a big “good morning” for each of them.
  • I also play a “love” game with the kids – I try to do daily with Big Bro and REd, and would like to start it with the Twins now too since their old enough to get it. It goes like this: Me: “Did I tell you yet today how much I love you?!?!?”. Kid: “No” (or sometimes they say yes mommy…”. Me: “I love you so much that I am going to [kiss your ear], [pull your toe], [squeeze your nose], [mess up your hair], [tickle your belly] etc. etc. etc. And then as I do these things I say “THAT’s how much I love you, I love you, I love you so much…..”. It really is fun, because they know the game but don’t know how I’m going to express my love, whether its picking them up and spinning around, or chasing them, etc. They also do it back to me from time to time.
  • Each day and in relation to school/pre-school, I ask each kid to make sure that they 1) learn something new today; 2) exercise their bodies; and 3) laugh really hard about something. Then at the end of the day I ask them questions about what they did today to learn something new, exercise, and tell me a funny thing that made them laugh.
  • Chocolate Tuesdays – I found Nutella as another breakfast option that is really easy to put on bagels, toast, tortillas, etc. A good source of protein since it is made of hazelnut – and the kids love it because it really does taste like chocolately goodness. The problem was that they wanted it all the time. So we asked them to pick only ONE morning to have it – that day was a Tuesday so of course Big Bro suggested Tuesdays. So the tradition was borne.
  • 20111113-181816.jpg

  • Movie Fridays – as a family we are a bit restrictive on the kids watching TV. Big Bro is the kind of kid that if he watches something in the day he will waste the day away (like me). So we have one night devoted to movies and popcorn: Friday nights. We love it as a family. Even the Twins now are getting into the popcorn even if they don’t have the attention span for the whole movie. I have lots of pictures of the four of them lined up on the couch eating popcorn and mesmerized by the movie – although this is fleeting and Red and the Twins tend to get bored and move on to other activities.
  • Saturday AM pancakes
  • Sunday AM waffles
  • Bathtime/ showertime is big in our house. We may not be able to do it as frequently as we would like, but all of the kids together is too much fun. The four kids used to bathe together in the one big HUGE tub in our room; now Big Bro takes a shower while the other 3 take a bath together. They LOVE it.
  • If the kids eat “two colors” at dinner, they get chocolate milk afterwards. I tell them that they have to listen to their body to know if they are full or not. I don’t force them to eat. But they must at least try two colors of food to get the milk at the other end.
  • Bigger traditions:

  • Christmas Eve: We make home-made pasta together. This is something my grandmother used to do whenever we would visit her, but I wanted to make it a tradition on Christmas eve. The thought is that we can make homemade linquinine or other shapes, and then diversify year by year with different sauces. It is hard work and takes time (even with a Kitchenaide mixer), but my thought is that as the kids get older, they will take over and with four of them they will be able to work together to get the job done faster, or at least switch off when they get tired.
  • Christmas eve: we also bake Chocolate Chip cookies during the day for Santa. We leave these out at night along with a cup of milk and carrots for the reindeer. We take baths and get into our chistmas pajamas, take pictures by the tree, and I have each of the kids draw a picture for Santa. It is the cutest thing to see each of them in their PJs busy at work, creating a special picture for Santa. In years past we’ve had pictures of airplanes, choo-choo trains, circles, and scribbles. I think it will be wonderful for them to have when they get older… so they get to see what meant so much to them when they were little and how they gifted their creativity to Santa each and every year while they believed.
  • Each year right before 9/11, we go to the store and buy gifts for the firefighters. We wrap them up and then on the day of 9/11 we visit the firestation and give them their gifts. Last year we got a crazy tour of the truck, they got to go inside the truck, and we all got a tour of the fire-house.
  • For Easter, the easter bunny not only gives them candy, but also TOOTHBRUSHES. The kids absolutely love getting them in their baskets.
  • We also do TOOTHBRUSHES in stocking stuffers at christmas time.
  • Things I’m thinking of:

  • With four kids, I’m thinking of having a poliana at Christmastime that the kids can do with each other.
  • Also with so many kids, I’m thinking of toning down Christmas (to one gift each) and spending the real celebration on their birthdays – which are more meaningful to me. The thought of celebrating a person’s life…. the fact that they are who they are…. and celebrating their uniqueness and what they mean to you, seems so much more worthy in my mind than the pile of presents at Christmastime for EACH child….
  • What are some of YOUR traditions? Big or small — share them all!!!!

    %d bloggers like this: