Kids are amazing. They notice everything. They question everything. They are curious.
My daughter J’Nyah is 7. Since she was born, I’ve been amazed as how quickly she learns things. When she was a baby, it was learning to hold her head, smile, or sit up. As a toddler–crawling, walking, running. It felt like she went from speaking gibberish to full sentences in the blink of an eye.
One of the best things about your child growing up is getting to know them as a person.
Her caring, giving spirit started young
J’Nyah has always been very independent and a leader. The first time I realized what kind of person she was growing into, I was so proud. At 2 years old, on her first day of preschool, we walked in, met the teachers, and she saw other kids she knew from the neighborhood and local parks. They all went right to playing. My little girl was very interested in the “house” area and started playing with the dolls.
There was one little girl who wouldn’t let go of her mother and was crying, out of control. J’Nyah asked me, “Mama, why is that girl so sad?” I said she was probably scared because it was her first time in a new place and she didn’t know anyone. J’Nyah picked up an extra doll, took it to the girl and started playing with her. Before I knew it, the two girls were giggling. The other grateful mother gave her little girl a kiss and we slipped out. The girls are friends to this day.
This happened again on the first day of kindergarten and first grade. J’Nyah is always ready to help someone having a hard time and make them feel better. Knowing that she isn’t using her strong personality to bully people and instead, to include and take care of them, makes me proud every day.
One day while walking downtown, we saw a number of homeless people panhandling and sleeping. My curious 4-year-old was staring at people as we passed. I didn’t want people to feel uncomfortable, but I also didn’t want her to ignore them.
As we went into the subway station, her questions started, “Why are those people there? Why are they asking for money? Why do they have a dog? Why are their kids with them?” I explained they probably didn’t have homes or jobs so they ask for money to get food and things they need. J’Nyah thought about this a lot, especially the kids that might not have a house or food. And she decided that she wants to help them.
At age 5, she started raising money
Since I work for JustGive, making giving a part of everyday life is always on my mind. So when J’Nyah decided she wanted to raise money for the homeless for her 5th birthday instead of getting gifts for herself, I was SUPER glad to we offer the tools to make that happen. I’ll admit that I planted the thought to raise money, but since the idea to help others was already there, she agreed right away.
At 5 years old, she raised $376 for a local organization, BOSS: Building Opportunities for Self-Sufficency, which provides resources and housing for homeless families. And the idea stuck with her. She remembers.
When she was turning 6, they were studying seals and sea lions in school, and J’Nyah heard her teacher say the pups are often abandoned. So she asked, “Can we help save the seals and sea lions this year for my birthday?” I was very proud she wanted to do it again, and together, we looked online for the charities rescuing marine life. We were lucky to find local organizations, the Marine Mammal Center (which we could visit too!) and Save the Bay.
While we were looking at these charities, she saw an ad for the ASPCA with an abused dog on it. She was very sad to hear that other animals are homeless and added East Bay SPCA so she could help them too. That year she raised $735 for the 3 charities.
When she was getting ready to turn 7, I wondered what we would do to celebrate. She was going to a lot more birthday parties this year and talking about elaborate plans for her party. As we were planning her party, she surprised me and asked, “Who are we going to help this year for my birthday?”
We talked through her many ideas, and since dolphins are her favorite animal right now, she decided to help them. This year she raised $830 for Blue Voice, The Dolphin Project via Earth Island Institute, and Wild Dolphin Project.
Her giving example
This Mother’s Day, I am so proud to have a child that wants to help others every day. I’m glad we’re talking about issues in the world and figuring out that making things better is something we can do together. I know J’Nyah will grow up to make a profound impact in the world.
If we all had her giving spirit, can you imagine the good we could do in the world?