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

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