Friday, August 14, 2009

Learn to have the generosity of children

There was once a little boy who collected plastic tree frogs.

He loved to play with the colorful creatures.

He had blue ones

and red ones

and yellow ones.

Spotted ones

and striped ones.

Each week, he saved his 50-cent allowance to buy a new one for his growing menagerie.

One week, he earned a dollar helping a neighbor rake leaves — enough for two tree frogs.

Imagine that.

The little boy was so happy he could hardly wait until it was Friday and time to do the weekly grocery shopping. You see, the tree frogs lived in a bubble-gum machine at the supermarket.

Each day, he’d ask his mother if that was the day they were going to the store.

And each day, for five days straight, his mother said no. But on the sixth day she said yes.

Tree frog day had finally arrived, and the little boy jumped and smiled and laughed.

Life was good.

On their way to the store, however, he and his mother stopped at the pharmacy to pick up some prescriptions. The little boy saw a can on the counter. There was a picture of a little girl on the sign that was attached. He asked his mother about the little girl, and she explained that the money collected in the can was used to help children with disabilities.

The little boy stuffed his chubby hand into his jeans pocket and pulled out his crumpled dollar. He looked at the picture of George Washington on the dollar bill and then at the picture of the little girl on the sign. He turned the dollar over and studied the back of it.

“Time to go,” his mother said, tugging his arm.

They walked a few steps, and the little boy stopped.

They walked a few more steps, and he stopped again.

“Wait,” he said.

He sprinted to the counter and stuffed the dollar in the can. Even though he wanted the tree frogs and had waited all week to get them, he wanted to help the little girl and her friends more.

I wonder, sometimes, what would happen if we were more like this child. If we opened our hearts to others without expecting something in return. What good we could do if every person who read this column threw a dollar in a pot.

Imagine that.


This is a true story about my son Zach. It’s one of the proudest moments of my life, and it’s one I will never forget.

The little boy is now a man. As he goes out into the world, I hope and pray that he never forgets the tree frogs and how good it feels to give.

First published in the York Daily Record/Sunday News Feb. 25, 2007

Inspired picture book: One Frog, Two Frogs, Three Frogs, Four

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