To Give or Not To Give

A few days back Ka came home and announced proudly that she had given away one of her favorite hair bands to one of her classmates.  This is a hair band that we spent 10 minutes bargaining for at the fake market and it cost us only 10 RMB.  It was pretty and Ka loved it.  So, she wore it to school the very next day.  Her friend asked her if she could keep it just for a day.  Ka let her.  The next day, the friend asked Ka if she could keep it forever and without a thought, Ka said yes.  She came home and told me and honestly, I didn’t know how to react.  I obviously didn’t look as happy and proud as Ka expected me to and instantly, the joy from her face vanished.  She looked confused and I didn’t understand why she didn’t understand my reaction.  She said she could ask her friend to give it back.  I told her we would ask dad if she should.   After about 10 or 15 minutes of silence, I told her it was ok for her to have given away her hair band but she should ask us before giving away things we buy for her.  And that was that.

Or so I thought.  A week later, I still can’t get it out of my mind.  I catch myself thinking about it every now and then.  I have been desperately trying to find one reason that could justify my reaction.  On the one hand, Mr. M and I keep telling her that material things don’t matter.  That she shouldn’t get attached to material things.  It comes and goes.  Nothing is ours forever.  It is all maya, an illusion (Yes! Ka is 6 years old and in human years, not dog years).  Having pounded this idea into her little head since she was a baby, she now has no trouble throwing away, giving away, or sharing any of her stuff.  The only things she expects us to keep are the “love letters” she writes to us.  Everything else is dispensable.  I think that’s a wonderful quality to have.  She is content with what she has.  She never demands or throws a tantrum for material things.  She loves and she gives freely not expecting anything in return.  I think that is beautiful.  And I, by reacting the way I did, am guilty of destroying a little part of that beauty forever…



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