“Charity is giving away the things we don’t need to the people who need them… It means helping mom take care of my younger sister and doing house chores… Charity is about loving God and showing love to others.”
These were some of the lines that I remember reading from my daughter’s entry to their school’s essay writing contest this afternoon. All along, I thought that she would only be joining the drawing contest although she told me that she wished she could be part of the writing contest as well. I assured her that there would be a time that she would become part of that too, before I meticulously prepared the materials she would need like crayons, new and freshly sharpened pencils, sharpener, and kneaded eraser for the drawing contest this morning. And as I bade her goodbye, I remember telling her this: Enjoy the contest, baby. God bless you!
In the afternoon, I decided to come to her school to see her drawing since parents were not invited to watch their children during the contest. I thought that by then, all the drawing entries would already be displayed on at least one of the bulletin boards in the campus. However, the entries had not been posted yet that I even had to ask her teacher if I could see her entry. She was not able to locate her drawing, but she told me that my daughter A was also a finalist to the essay-writing contest.
I was sure that she was mistaken as I remembered what my daughter told me this morning, until she produced the essay that was supposedly written by my first grader. It was written in a whole sheet of yellow paper. The teacher even went as far as to tell me that my daughter indeed has a talent in writing. She said the preliminary contest required the contestants to write a fictional story, and my daughter had written an impressive one. She explained that A wrote a story with familiar elements, but somehow, none of the judges was able to pinpoint a similar story that she might have memorized. At this point, I was already swelling with pride, and told the teacher that it was very likely that my daughter could produce such a story since she’s a wide reader even at her very young age, and liked to tell stories out of her imagination.
However, as I reread what my daughter had supposedly written, other thoughts filled my mind as well. The first line made me realize how my actions could speak louder than words. She learned about charity, had that exact notion of charity, because of what she had seen me do, that is, to give away the things we no longer need, especially after acquiring new stuff like clothes, shoes, and toys, especially during calamities. I couldn’t help feeling that there was something missing with her definition though and it was my fault. Charity should not only be confined to giving others the things we no longer need, but giving them what they need even if it means going out of our way and shelling out extra money.
The topic sentence in the middle of her essay made me realize that she learned about charity from the things I actually taught her to do, told her to do. Since she had associated charity with helping others, she was also able to relate it to helping her mom–me–with house chores and in looking after her younger sister. At this point, I was happy that she was able to establish a connection and seemed constantly aware of her duties as an older sister and what I both teach and tell her to do at home.
Finally, the last topic sentence made me feel nothing but pride. I thought of all those Bible stories that we have read together, the things she learned in Sunday school, and the values I have tried to reiterate to her each time I had the chance to do so. I believed that all those lessons had finally taken roots and now even bearing fruits.
Indeed, my seven-year old daughter has taught me so many things in her essay, which I had the privilege to read. She made me feel so proud, but more than anything, she has both reminded and encouraged me to be a better mom.