explaining this to my three-year-old

{The Sri Lankan coastline from my plane window this morning.}

“You go on a airplane and go see O, Mommy?” He parrots back to me bits and pieces of what I have told him about this trip. “And den you give him his happy birthday present? Then you come home?”

OBoy and I have had many conversations in preparation for my trip to Sri Lanka with World Vision, usually over scrambled eggs or Graham crackers. I have tried to touch on the important parts and skip over the details for which he would have no frame of reference. As far as distance, he does not know that I will be traveling for 33 hours each way or that I will be 10.5 hours ahead of his time zone. Ten point five. Apparently the Time Powers That Be believe in fractions. OBoy does know that Mommy will take a plane to a far away place where O and other kiddos live and that I will have to take a plane home, too.

OBoy has a loose grasp on the notion of future-time beyond tomorrow and the day after that. Tomorrow he gets. “We go to sweep and den when we wakes up it be time to go to the libwawy.” Yesterday we sat on the rug in our living room and, this time over cheese crackers, I talked through how many times he would sleep and wake up during mommy’s trip. 9. Nine times his Daddy (or our awesome babysitter) will help him brush his teeth, will read to him from the Bible, will tuck him in, and will help him get dressed in the morning. Sleep, wake up. Sleep, wake up. Sleep, wake up. Sleep, wake up. Sleep, wake up. Sleep, wake up. Sleep, wake up. Sleep, wake up. Sleep, wake up. THEN mommy comes home on the airplane and you, OBrother and Daddy can pick me up at the airport.

But my three year old? He more than understands helping people. The fact that mommy packed dozens of toys for kiddos who may not have many toys is not lost on him. Sure, he was dissapointed when I informed him that he could not, in fact, keep the slinky he found in my luggage, but it was fleeting. When I told him (over oatmeal) that I am going to see children and babies who need money so that they can see the doctor and eat healthy food, he asked if I could bring them oatmeal “so the kiddos can grow big and strong like me.”

He gets it. He might not grasp how far or how long I am going, but he absolutely understands why I’m going. I have to believe that it is innate – part of our Made In His Image-ness – to understand charity. Time and distance take theories and charts, but compassion only takes seeing and hearing for us to understand.

I hope you will come with us to Sri Lanka this week to see and hear.

Take a moment and consider sponsoring a child through World Vision. We can make a difference one child, one community, one country at a time.

7 Responses to “explaining this to my three-year-old”

  1. Kara

    I agree with you 100%. If we look at children- with all their innocence, their ease at giving and receiving love, their ability to feel compassion for others- we can see the way that we are all meant to be. Life experiences, pain, heartache have possibly hardened us, causing us to forget what it means to be a good person. I truly believe that we can learn so much from children!

  2. Karey

    Oh, my heart! That is so sweet. Kids are amazing and I’m glad yours totally “gets it” – and I’m praying for those kids that will receive it, as well. Thank you for the work you’re doing – you are such a blessing to so many!

  3. Kim

    Can’t wait to hear all about what you are doing — and that is one amazing little boy you are raising.


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