The Toddler Years Part Two

When our children are little, wearing well-padded diapers and toddling around exploring their world, we worry. We want them to expand their understanding of their world, but we are often consumed with worry of potential falls and injuries.

While the toddler years are rough on parents, society warns us to be prepared for the really challenging teen years ahead. What we fail to realize as we worry our way through each new phase is that in all the years of our children’s youth we are there to catch them when they fall. They live in our homes, drive our cars, eat our food, spend our money, and are protected by our insurance. Just like the toddler in the thick diaper, our youth are buffered. Their inevitable stumbles and falls will occur while we are nearby to care for their injuries and sooth their fears.

Society fails to warn of the level worry we will feel when our child exits our home as a legal adult. So much like the toddler years, early adulthood is filled with challenges and adventures that will most certainly result in falls and injuries. There certainly will be near misses and startled emotions, and there will be periods of great frustration. Regardless of how well we prepare them for the world, they will toddle once again as they develop a surety in their own balance. Only this time around, we will not be on the spot to reassure them or sooth them.

While we parents are warned of many things as we work our way through the stages of our children’s growth, we seem to seldom hear the sage warning that those toddler years were preparatory for the day when we would hug the adult child and then watch them toddle away from our home.

Gift giving, the thought is not all that counts.

IMG_0886In a world where there are so many in need of food, warmth, and shelter, it is up to the giver to gift responsibly. Intent will never be of greater value than a gift received by one who truly benefits from it.

There are many reasons a person creates items that end up in charity boxes. I personally find knitting, crochet, etc. helps relieve my stress. However I would not want something that helps reduce my stress to become the thing that causes someone else stress. An act of compassion, love, or charity should come unburdened by expectation. Yet, society seems to demand that well-meaning gifts be accepted with meekness, even when the gifts cause burden or harm.

Year after year, well-meaning people gift friends and family with the handmade items, many also donate hats, scarves, and blankets to charitable causes with the hope that their efforts will bless the lives of the recipients. Each year, I read social media the complaints made by disappointed givers who find that their gifts have not been received with gratitude or with excitement. This is a reality in the world of handmade gifts. These posts are usually accompanied by comments of support for the gift-giver, and the general criticism for those who do not accept the gift with glee, or at least with feigned pleasure.

This year I have seen something new – an attack on a recipient who found the receipt of charity to be a burden, and who was rightfully justified in their feelings. Justification did little to mitigate the condemnation they received.

In the years following the U.S. decision to pursue military action in Afghanistan, there have been many charitable organizations dedicated to sending care-packages to troops serving far from home. In the early years, sending a box to “any service member” would get a package delivered to some random service member. Safety, security, and practicality have ended such deliveries. Now for such charitable deliveries to be received, an actual recipient’s name is required. Unfortunately, this means that organizations need a recipient, and it seems they are not worried about gaining the permission of the recipient before sending the care-package.

There are many reasons that the unsuspecting recipient might find it problematic to receive unsolicited gifts, but when their name is used by a charitable organization as the end point of 20, 30, 40 or more packages, there is little doubt that they would have a problem. The charity might envision a gleeful recipient acting as Santa as they hand out package after package to associates, but not all service members are in situations where they can do this.

Local, national, and international charities all seem to agree that random donations are problematic and not nearly the blessing that monetary funds provide. Sending unsolicited items and care-packages often cost time, energy, and money. The act of charity becomes the opposite – it becomes a burden.

Charity and gift-giving should not cause hardship or stress for the recipient. It is not just the thought that counts. The very basis for giving a gift is the rooted in a caring for another person, even a stranger. The joy of making a gift will never compare to knowing that gift is welcomed. Therefore, responsible gift-giving is paramount.