Learning contentment from a 7-year-old

This past week my husband and I attended a birthday party for the seven-year-old son of some friends. We tucked seven crisp one-dollar bills in a Superman card and, when the birthday boy met us on the driveway of his home, I handed him the card. He glanced at it briefly and said sweetly, “No thank you.”

“Honey, this is your birthday gift,” I urged, surprised at his response. “It has money in it. Don’t you want it?”

“No thank you,” he repeated.

We were a little taken back. What normal kid doesn’t want a gift–especially money? Meanwhile, his young friends surrounded us, clamoring, “I want it! I’ll take the money!” I held the card high in the air so his “normal” friends couldn’t extricate it from my hands. Then I headed toward the birthday boy’s parents and gave them the gift, commenting on their son’s refusal to accept it. The mother explained that he’s always been like that, wondering why people give him gifts if he hasn’t asked for anything. He’s simply content and creative with what he has.

Personally, I find the young boy’s attitude extremely refreshing. Think of how many times you’ve attended children’s parties and, while the guest of honor is opening his/her gifts, other kids are crying, “What about me? Where’s my gift?” Where do kids learn this stuff?

I was in a store check-out line while the cashier and the customer in front of me lamented how unfair it was that some famous person had received an enormous inheritance. “He’s so greedy,” the cashier complained. “The least he could do is share his wealth with other people.”

“I know,” opined the customer. “It’s not fair that some people have so much and others have so little.” He grabbed his bags and walked off. I stepped up in line, smiled at the cashier and said, “So, if you receive a large inheritance will you share it with me? It just wouldn’t be fair if you kept it all yourself.”  If looks could kill . . .

Isn’t human nature funny. When we don’t have much, we despise those who do. (I think that’s called envy.)  But when we DO enjoy abundance, greed can cause us to keep it all to ourselves. (I think that’s called jealousy.) Where do we learn this stuff?

I know a seven-year-old kid who could teach us a thing or two about contentment. He obviously learned it somewhere. Hats off to his parents.

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