Thursday, June 11, 2015

A giving sort of birthday

The twins' birthday aren't till the end of June but they like doing a thing with their friends. Unfortunately, the thing about having their birthdays during the holidays is that there isn't ever a time where all their friends are around. The solution: to do something before everyone goes off on vacation.

Term, however, ends a good month before their birthday and it does seem strange and artificial to me to celebrate that much earlier. Eventually, the consensus was to do a simple small early- birthday play date with their friends. Nothing elaborate; just pure, unadulterated fun. Not exactly a party.

At the same time, we've been talking to the twins about learning to not covet and how there will be no end to wanting mountains and mountains of toys. We've also been talking to them about helping and the responsibility to others. Helping others who have less. Helping others who need help. Add to that, we've gotten to the point, with JED, that birthdays and Christmas are met with dread because of having to sort out the presents that they get.

So, the eventual party was a swim date where each twin invited 8 friends with dinner at MacDonald's after. There were no goodie bags and no cake; we bought everyone a simple water canon to play with and they could take it home at the end of the day. They played till the water park closed.

And after talking it through with the twins, we decided that we would ask their friends not to bring presents but to bring a donation that would go to Nepal. The twins had heard about the earthquake in Nepal because for a time, that was all that was on the BBC, ad nauseum. To contextualise it, we had shown them pictures of the destruction and talked to them about what they thought the Nepali people needed.

It truly became more of an end of term bash with an occasional reference to the twins' birthday since there weren't balloons, banners and cake with only the small occasional present from parents who thought the twins might still want something tangible for themselves. The biggest thrill for them came when breaking open their home-made donation box and counting the money in it. While there was a great amount of exclamation about how much money they had counted (we raised an even $1000 from their friends!), not once did they ask for that money to be spent on them. Yesterday, we finally found the time to take them to the Red Cross to donate the money. They fought all the way there. Both wanted to hold the envelope. Both wanted to present the money for donation. Both were thrilled when they got the receipt for having donated $1000. 

In the recent week or so, we wished that we could have donated the money to the guide who lost his life trying to rescue victims in Sabah or the local teacher who also lost his life in Sabah as well. But because Nepal was what we had told the twins' friends and their parents, we honoured our commitment and donated it to Nepal. This was once again something we had to explain to the twins. Jordan had asked if the money could go to Sabah when she heard about the tragedy and the children who had lost their lives. We explained that while we wanted to, we had already promised that money to Nepal and we would donate to the Sabah victims separately. Evan's remark was an insightful and telling one- there are so many people in the world that really need money.

Yes, indeed.

If I had a birthday wish for the twins, it would be that we would be able to do this every year with them, now that they are a bit older and able to understand their obligations to the wider world out there.


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