After admiring my children use every last nub of sidewalk chalk, I went out and bought a fresh new tub of the stuff last night. This morning, on the way to violin lessons Mary and Xander pondered all the fun they would have with it this afternoon. “Wait!” one child gasped, “Today is scripture group. We’d better hide our new chalk!” (it’s a well-known fact that the dozen or so kids at scripture group have unrestrained reign of the house and yard while we mommies sit on the couch and studiously ignore them.)
As they began to discuss rules for the chalk, I imagined one of my children standing on the basketball court screeching, “You have to be careful with the chalk! Don’t break it! Don’t waste it. It’s MINE.”
So I began to explain, “Chalk is cheap. Ridiculously cheap. We can buy more. Your friends are valuable.” Clearly, I haven’t purchased enough chalk over the years, but it’s surprisingly inexpensive– $1 buys a nice tub of 10 assorted colors.
“Listen,” I implored, sensing their distrust(after all, we’ve had a winter of chalk famine at our house), “Giving your friends a few pieces of chalk is just like handing out granola bars or lemonade or popsicles(which they never hesitate about). We just do it to be nice.”
Their fears eased, Xander ran to school and Mary proudly greeted her friends with, “I have new chalk! Do you want to draw?” Her generosity was repaid almost immediately by a friend who brought cookies to share.
As Mary gathered the pieces an hour and a half later(in nearly perfect condition) I couldn’t help but wonder what I was holding back in my life. What things I had inflated in value and kept to myself, unwilling to share?
Love. Time. Kindness.
How often have I rushed past someone who needed me, neglected a note or kind email or withheld a compliment that could be easily and freely given? And in times of personal famine, I’ve withdrawn even more– unintentionally starving myself from happiness.
I love to read biographies, and I’m always struck by the time that past generations devoted to letter writing and visiting. They devoted hours to updating, informing and expressing love to their family and friends(I think the Victorians would have LOVED blogs and Facebook). Letters and afternoon tea parties weren’t considered a waste of time but an essential, precious part of daily life.
So, I vow to slow down, offer more compliments, ask more questions, write some love notes, send birthday cards and draw more chalk masterpieces.
Because at the store today, buying corn beef and cabbage, I bought a 50 piece bucket of multicolored chalk($3.99!)– I have enough and to spare.