It’s the Lenten season, 2016 and with all but one child moved out (and the last one a busy senior) I’m feeling a little reminiscent. After homeschooling our children for years, it seems odd not to be wrapped up Lenten activities the children. Here’s a story to warm you, on Lenten virtues about my honest little boy. It’s true.
My husband and I have always lived frugally, by necessity and by choice. We raised four children in a 20-year-old mobile home, on near poverty level single income, with one 15-year-old shared car. We practiced minimalism long before there was a word for it. So it would have been easy for our children who often did without the luxuries others enjoyed, to grow up selfish, greedy and demanding. They heard the words “we can’t afford it” all the time. But they are unselfish and generous. In fact, they practiced Lenten generosity to a fault.
Here’s a Lenten vignette to illustrate just how unselfish and kind my children are. The protagonist is Albert (affectionately named “Albie” the oldest son). He is now almost 26 and was eight when this occurred. What Albert did wasn’t particularly heroic. He didn’t save anyone’s life or perform a superhuman feat of courage. But what he did is perhaps one of the hardest things for little boy–he was honest.
While at the beach one hot summer day, Grandma and I were cleaning up from the picnic. The children were playing on the playground equipment as we gave our meal the 15 minute digesting period before heading back into the water. Albie ran up with something in his hand and said “Here Mom, I found this.” He casually tossed it on the picnic table and ran off to play. It was a lost wallet. Grampa inspected the contents and declared that it only had a few singles in it.” Grandma, being made of good Hollander stock, made a more thorough inspection while I nursed the baby.
Well, the little boy had found not a “few singles” but $226 in ones, fives and a few tens. The lost wallet was empty of everything but the cash. No identification, papers, nothing. I called Albie over to tell him what he had found and so began the family debate over what to do with the find. His sister and Grandpa were for Albie keeping it. Grandma was for turning it in to the lifeguards (this idea roundly scoffed by Grampa who declared that they would just pocket it). Mom (the mystery reader) had decided that the lost wallet was really planted by DEA agents or full of drug money (don’t judge).
Our hero, honest Albie, had his own ideas. “I’m going to ask Daddy. He’ll know what to do.” (I get tears in my eyes every time I remember that trusting voice.) I said that since Albie had found it, he could decide what to do. Dad was duly asked and he suggested that he and Alb take it to the police department, which they did. The officers in charge were completely delighted with my little boy. They said he was a “great guy” for being so honest and that not many children would turn in $226. Albie was issued a claim ticket for the lost wallet and told that in 60 days if no one claimed it, the lost wallet and money were his.
Just as the 60 days were nearly up (and sister and little brother busy planning how to spend Albie’s money) a letter came for Albie in the mail. It was from another boy, the owner of the wallet. He was 10, had been vacationing in our area and lost his wallet. He said that it had all his saved up money from raking leaves and odd jobs. He said he never expected to see it again and was so grateful that Alb was an honest little boy. Albie received a $50 reward. I think Albie has pretty much forgotten that random act of kindness over the years. But I have not. I don’t think God has either.