And the Toothfairy came. This sneaky fairy tip-toed into Isabel’s room a few hours past the kids’ bedtime to do the job only the Toothfairy can do (or the little white mouse, if you live south of the Texas-Mexico border): to buy the long-wiggled, expectantly-yanked-every-few-days tooth. The exchange rate these days at our house is one crisp dollar bill for one white and tiny pearl. The Toothfairy had to pull and prod and, being careful not to wake her up, take out the little red box, and make the exchange.
The next morning she ran, hopped, and skipped to our bedroom at a ridiculously early hour, a memory of Christmas morning all over again, with her little red box and more money inside it than a six year old knows what to do with. “Mami! It’s gone! My tooth is gone! And I got a dollar! I got a dollar!” Precious booty to a little girl who does not yet get an allowance and whose parents don’t tend to buy toys beyond Christmas and birthdays.
Last year I bought her a three-piece piggy bank. It’s shaped like the letters A, B, and C connected, and each letter is a compartment. The A is for giving. This is the money she takes to church each week for Jesus. The B is for saving for bigger items she may want to buy. The C is for spending and this one is usually empty as the concept of “now” trumps the concept of “later” almost every time.
As we sat at breakfast in the kitchen the morning after she became richer by a dollar I asked her to put her dollar into one of the three compartments so she would not lose it. Without hesitation she said she wanted to put it into the “Jesus” one. Eyes wide I asked: “The WHOLE dollar?” She nodded earnestly and happily. Because I am logical, thrifty, and practical, I offered to exchange her dollar for four quarters. “That way you can put a little into each box,” I suggested. Because she is generous, trusting, and much more obedient than I, she declined. “I want to give the whole dollar to Jesus!” she said. And pride and tenderness spilled out of my eyes. And just a few days before we had discussed our character trait for the month of April and its accompanying verse: generosity as found in 2 Corinthians 9:7
“God loves a cheerful giver”
And she embodies it. Like the little widow who put all she had into the coffers of the temple, so this child gave not from what was left after she bought her new toy, but the whole of her prize, everything she owned. She gave believing she would not lack and out of gratitude for the blessing itself rather than for what the blessing would bring her.
And I don’t give like that. Ever. I tell myself I give sacrificially as I rationalize how little to give, as I add and subtract, re-arrange the numbers one more time, and frown over pennies and nickels. And when Jesus calls me to give just a little more of my money, my time, my energy, my resources, I grumble and complain and ask “Don’t I give enough already?”
My children bring me great happiness every day. But every day they also teach me. And they partner with God to point out to me where my faith is lacking, where it’s little. I am the one who chooses the trait of the month for Isabel and Noah to learn to live out. I am the one who chooses the scripture that accompanies it. I am the one who explains it to them.
Yet they are the ones who model it for me.