At no time of the year are my kids more concerned with coins than they are in the summer. Our pool comes complete with a small snack bar, where for a mere .25 cents they can buy a jolly pop popsicle. We keep a baggie of coins in the pool bag for just that purpose, and the kids are forever finding fallen coins everywhere we go and hoarding them for the pool. All nice in theory, however; but the kids have turned the coin finding into a type of competition, with, of course, pretty disastrous results.
Last week the kids had an almost knock down drag out fight over a nickel L. and T. had both found, almost simultaneously, on the sidewalk. It was one of those spontaneous sibling squabbles that explode out of nowhere, like a burst of flames, leaving you to wonder what on earth you did wrong as a parent to make your kids behave like that. In public. To make matters worse, as Murphy's Parenting Law dictates, the squabble did NOT happen at my most patient and even-keeled moment and after I had swooped down upon them like some wrathful alter-ego of myself, I snatched the nickel away.
"But what will we do with the nickel?" T. asked, her eyes brimming with tears over the injustice of it all.
"I'll keep it," I said, somewhat snappishly.
When I saw that this answer didn't seem to satisfy T., I took a deep breath and asked her what she thought we should do with it.
She took her own deep breath and, lips trembling, said "How about give it to a poor person?"
Right there all the impatience and disappointment I had felt vanished like a puff of smoke; or like a black cloud being blown right away by a burst of fresh air. Sometimes my children really do surprise me; The best part of being a parent can be those little surprises your kids save for you--those glimpses into who they really are, deep down: good, thoughtful, nice-to-know children who will grow up to be good, thoughtful, nice-to-know grownups.
And so the Charity Jar was born. From now on, every time we find a fallen coin--no matter how small or large, it goes into the Charity Jar.
Have you seen this website? You can follow him on Twitter, too. If you really pay attention, it's amazing how many fallen pennies are really out there in the world, just waiting to be picked up.