Last night the boys and I went to Target to pick up, in addition to other things, some presents for a little girl in one of those holiday gift drives.  The boys were very helpful in pointing out stuff they thought she would like based on the short list of preferences I was given. (Sadly, there was no indication of clothing size, I would’ve liked to have gotten something cute – I never get to buy girl’s clothing).

Anyway, both boys would periodically announce our activity to passerby “We’re buying presents for a little girl whose family is poor.” And I would cringe.  Somehow, the way they said it made being poor sound like some form of disease (that’s certainly how certain conservatives treat it – like some contagious disease brought on by illicit behavior). 

I was trying to find some way to communicate with the boys that (a) it was not necessary to advertise our activities (in my view, helping others  should not be done for bragging rights (although if that’s what will draw the time & money sometimes it must be done – see corporate support for just about anything)); and (b) that what they were saying was somehow unkind.  And I couldn’t quite explain to myself why it was unkind, let alone put it into words that a 3 and 6 year-old would understand.  Something to do with the “us/them” distinction?  Something to do with an attitude of arrogant benificence coming from a position of privilege?  Help me out here — any ideas on how to explain to my boys that while their action is good, that their communication of same raises questions about intent and well-meaning but misguided understanding?

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