CENTS AND SENSITIVITY

CENTS AND SENSITIVITY

From Chicken Soup for the Mother of Preschooler's Soul

Cents and Sensitivity

With only a few more shopping days before Christmas, my daughter had her heart set on making a homemade gift for her teacher. In spite of my pre-holiday frenzy, I loaded Micaela, five, and Nikolas, three, into the car and headed to the local fabric store.

Keeping an eye on the time, I rushed up and down the aisles collecting the craft items we needed. As I wrote a check for the merchandise, I noticed both kids staring wide-eyed at a display on the checkout counter.

“Mama, who’s that?” asked Micaela.

“Where did her hair go?” wondered Nikolas.

I bent low and quietly explained that the picture was of a little girl sick with a disease called cancer. “The medicines she gets from the doctors help her get better but make her hair fall out.” I fished in my purse for spare change and let the kids drop it in the box. “The money will help the little girl. Isn’t that nice?”

As I held their hands on the way to the car, I thanked God for my healthy children and asked God to bless the little girl and her family.

Next on my impossibly long to-do list, was an appointment and lunch. But Micaela and Nikolas were not so quick to forget the needs of the poster child.

“Why didn’t we give her more money?” they asked.

“I didn’t have any more change,” I answered, “and we still need to buy lunch.”

“Hey, let’s eat sandwiches at home,” suggested Micaela, “Then we can give her the money instead.”

“And let’s give her all our piggy bank money, too!” Nikolas suggested.

Touched by their sensitivity and unselfishness, I opted to alter our hectic plans and drive straight home. After we ate PB&Js, the kids emptied their banks. Dimes, quarters, nickels and pennies they’d saved for months made an impressive pile on the kitchen table.

“If you give all this away,” I cautioned them, “you won’t have any left to buy the toys you’ve been saving for.”

“Well, that’s okay, Mama. Didn’t you see? That girl needs our help!”

We bagged the loose change and headed back to the fabric shop.

Standing eagerly in line among harried holiday shoppers, Micaela and Nikolas smiled and jumped in excitement. When we reached the register, the clerk recognized us. “Do you have a return?”

“No,” Nikolas pointed, “we want to give our money to the sick girl.”

Stretching on tiptoes, they started dropping their saved coins into the slot on top of the box. One at a time. Dimes, quarters, nickels and pennies. I tossed a worried glance over my shoulder at the long line forming behind us and shifted uncomfortably.

Plink. Plink. Plink.

The clerk, too, realized this might take a while and tossed an apologetic look at the other customers.

But one of the ladies behind us dabbed at her moist eyes and said, “Don’t worry, we’ll wait. We’ll wait.”

Unaware of the emotion around them, the kids continued feeding the box. Plink. Plink, plink, plink. When their bags were empty, Micaela lifted the cardboard display container and shook it a little. “It’s a lot fuller now, Nikolas.” She nodded in satisfaction. “I’d say almost full to the top.”

Nikolas grinned and gave it a final shake for good measure.

And the lady behind us smiled. “Thank you for letting us watch. It isn’t every day we get to see little hearts grow.”

Tasha Jacobson

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