Our boy turned four today.

Not a huge, monumental milestone birthday … but definitely bigger than the baby we brought home more than 3 years ago from Addis.  See, mentally, sometimes, I still feel like I’m “there.”  And by “there,” I mean in that new mom stage, with the baby, and the diaper bag, and the stroller, and all the supplies, and all the “rules” that came with having an infant (you know, the “No eggs before nine months!  He must be off the bottle by his first birthday!”)

But in reality, those days are long behind us.  Eli is four now … and though it’s only been a few years since those baby days, four is really a world away from infancy.  Just the other day, Eli and I were driving to preschool and talking about Ethiopia, and how he was born there, and how beautiful it is there.  But then, I thought to myself – he’s ready to learn a little more.

“You know, some of the people who live in Ethiopia are quite poor, Eli.”

“They’re bored?” he asked incredulously.

“No, sweetie, they’re poor — that means they don’t have a lot of money for food, or clothes, or homes, or school.”

“That’s TERRIBLE!”

“I know!  But there are things we can do to help them.”

“Like give them money?” I saw him screw up his little face in the rear-view mirror.  He was thinking hard.  Then he said, “Mommy, I have money in my piggy bank.  I can give it to the people in Ethiopia so they can buy food, and drinks, and graham crackers, and chocolate, and marshmallows.  Please can I? I really want to.”

My heart melted like a stick of butter right there.  I literally almost pulled the car over and started crying.  (Let me fill you in for a sec and tell you that Eli has three dollars and change in his piggy bank that he counts all the time and is sooo proud of.)

What really hit me was the pure, innocent and genuine love young children have for others.  That most adults — even the kindest and most loving and generous adults — lack.  The no-questions-asked, no “what’s-in-it-for-me?” generosity.

And here I am, this little boy’s mother, always rushing around thinking of “this” or “that” — with the ability to give, do SOMETHING … and yet still doing not much at all.

So, in honor of my Ethiopian son’s birthday, I am challenging myself to give more and do more.  I challenge you to do the same.  If a four-year-old can give all the money he has, then we, as grown-ups, can at least give a little.

And he’s also thrown toys into the equation.  Totally out of the blue yesterday, he said, “Mommy, I have toys and I think the children in Ethiopia might not have any.  I want to give them mine.”

So, I say, if a four year old can give his toys to children in need, then certainly we, as adults, can donate some small toys or items to go in a child’s backpack for EOR’s upcoming trip to Ethiopia.

Who’s with me?



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