Birthday Party (Continuation Day :-)

Compassion

For his 6th birthday party, Chase decided to have a Toy Swap.  He made up his own invitations and sent them to his friends. His invitation said:

Look in your toy box,  and find a toy that you think I would like and that you would like to give to me. I will do the same for you.

The idea was simple enough.  Each child would bring a used toy for Chase and Chase would give away one of his toys to each guest.  But Chase’s mom, Jennifer, wondered:  will children resist giving away their own toys?  Will parents resist taking used toys to a party?  Will her son-and the other children– give away only the toys they don’t like?

She could have spared herself the worry.

Each time someone called to say they were coming to the party, Chase would run to his toy box in search of the gift that he thought would be perfect for this particular friend.  Sometimes it took hours to choose.  Sometimes it took days.

For Nicholas, Chase chose a rubber snake which he had bought when his family visited the museum a few days before his party.  He chose the big marble he cherished which he had bought with his own money for Austin.  He gave Gracy a lego pirate ship he had made.

Andy’s mom called Jennifer several days before the party.  “Andy is so excited about Chase’s birthday party.” she said.  “He has spent days in his room looking for just the right gift!  Usually,” she continued, “when he gets a birthday invitation, I ask Andy, ‘What do you want me to buy for your friend?’  He always shrugs and says, ‘I don’t know.’  But this time, he’s spending hours deciding on just the right thing!”

Braydon brought a toy he got for Christmas to Chase’s party.  “I might miss it a little bit,” he said, “but I want you to have it, Chase.  I think you’ll really like it.”

Jimmy gave Chase his ball with spider man on it that he had bought weeks earlier at the grocery store with his allowance.

When it came time to open gifts, Chase was so excited about the gifts he had chosen for his friends that rather than open his own gifts, he would beg his friend to open the gift he had given him.  ‘You’re gonna love this!” he’d grin.

Submitted by Terry Cortes-Vega

The Two Promises

I vow to develop understanding in order to live peacefully with people, animals, plants, and minerals.

I vow to develop my compassion, in order to protect the lives of people, animals, plants, and minerals.

During every family retreat, children learn about the Two Promises, mindfulness trainings for children. We learn a song about them and talk about how they can help us in our lives. The children have the opportunity to receive the Two Promises, in a formal ceremony just before the adults receive the Five Mindfulness Trainings transmission. The children receive a Dharma name and a certificate to remind them of their promises.

Before the children receive the Two Promises, they are asked to write about their aspirations and why they want to receive them. Here are some responses (taken from I have arrived, I am home: Celebrating 20 Years of Plum Village Life, by Thich Nhat Hanh):

I want to take the two promises because it will make me more mindful, and the people around me will be happier. I also think they will make me be less nervous when I am meeting new people.

—Joanna S., Loving Home of the Heart, age 12

I would like to take the promises so I learn how to love others deeply.

—Mary Ann N., Precious Stream of the Heart, age 11

1. I hope the two promises will help me to understand my family’s needs better.

2. I also hope I can teach myself and other people to feel compassion for other people and myself.

3. I would like to take the Two Promises and learn the song better so that I can teach it to kids that are interested in Buddhism, but aren’t Buddhist.

—Siena D., Healing Joy of the Heart, age 11

Because I care about nature, animals, and people. I want to live peacefully and to be happy.

—Laetitia C., Joyful Garden of the Heart, age 11

I would like to be more compassion[ate]. I would like to understand myself and other people better.

—Djuna W., Radiant Smile of the Heart, age 10

Because Understanding and Compassion is me.

—Jenna B., age 9

I want to be mindful.

—Angelique C., age 11

Because they will help me be with people more easily, make my life happier.

—Nguyen An L., Peaceful Joy of the Heart, age 7

To help me remember to be nice to all living things.

—Julia L., Gentle Flower of the Heart, age 6

Because I feel I will have a better life if I do it.

—Erin A., Amazing Grace of the Heart, age 6

I want to have a memory of Thich Nhat Hanh because he is nice. He is fun with children, and I like singing and praying.

—Max M., Peaceful Strength of the Heart, age 7

I really want to understand and help other things. I want to be a veterinarian to help animals. I want to make sure that there are no more poachers in the world, plant a lot more trees and seeds, and help people that are suffering.

—Maeve K., Great Offering of the Heart, age 7

I want to receive the Two Promises because if I have understanding then I can be respectful, nice, and helpful, and giving. If I have compassion, then I can love my relatives more, and I can also listen to people better.

—Ryah B., Generous Listening of the Heart, age 11

I want to climb the path of mindfulness like a monkey. I am flexible; I am deep…swimming like a fish.

—Hayden C., Playful Support of the Heart

I want to receive the Two Promises because it will help me to understand my brother and sister when I water their seeds of anger and seeds of joy and compassion–to live peacefully with them.

—Hylan K., Skillful Gardener of the Heart, age 12

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