The Playroom: The donut rule

Author: Maraya Steadman '89, '90MBA

Maraya Steadman

I’ve been having kind of a hard time lately, so I decided to go and talk to Father Jim about it. Go to confession. Something I haven’t done in a long time, “Bless me father for I have sinned, it’s been 36 years since my last confession.”

I realized while Father Jim and I were talking that among the many things I was struggling with this season, one of them was gratitude and another was justice.

As a child we are focused on justice. The first pronoun my kids learned was “mine.” And soon after we began to work on the concept of sharing. I learned through parenting that before we can learn to share, we have to understand what is ours, what belongs to us, what is mine.

As I worked on the concept of sharing with my children at all the difficult 2- and 3-year-old play dates, the word “fair” started to be said, shouted, screamed. “It’s not fair!”

And that’s kind of what I wanted to talk to Father Jim about. I’ve been throwing a tantrum about what’s not fair.

I have a 10 percent rule I came up with after holding the worst PTO co-chair position ever for two years. The kind of volunteer position that has my friends giving me cocktail napkins with catchy phrases on them: “Stop me before I volunteer for something.”

My 10 percent rule was this: Only 10 percent of the people in our church and school community ever volunteer for anything, even something as simple as buying donuts for a classroom party.

And yeah, I was really cranky when I came up with the 10 percent rule, but it helps me manage expectations, and it helped get me through birthday book club for 87 kids last fall.

Well, it turns out, there’s a 10 percent rule in Luke’s Gospel. It’s the story of the 10 lepers, Luke 17: 11-19. How Jesus heals them all, but only one actually comes back to him and says thank you.

At first, when Father Jim told me about the story, I got self-righteous. Yup, that’s it, nine out of 10 parents aren’t going to pony up the donuts. But, me, I’m always out there, buying the donuts. That’s me, the one who came to Jesus and bought the donuts.

Except I wasn’t. I was actually one of the other nine lepers who couldn’t be bothered to say, “thank you.”

As I watch my 3-year old throw a fit because she doesn’t want to share her stuffed yellow chicken with Sofia, I think about sharing, being a grown-up, being grateful. And I think about buying more donuts. But the one with the pink frosting and the sprinkles on top, that one is mine.

Maraya Steadman, who lives in a Chicago suburb, is a stay-at-home mother of three children. She can be reached at