Making Change With My Boy

For those of you who don’t know, I have a little boy. I won’t tell you his name, because his name is his own business. And he’ll share it with the world when he’s ready.

Online, I refer to him as Oot.


He is my heart’s delight. He is my sweet boy.

This is a story about him. Because that’s what I do. I tell stories.

*     *     *

A while back, I wrote a blog about my change jar.

Unspeakable Wealth

(Yeah. My kitchen is pretty orange.)

In that long-ago blog, I talked about how strange it is for me to have quarters in my change jar. For the majority of my life, the quarters have been picked out to make ends meet when times get tight. There’s been a lot of time when my change jar didn’t have many dimes in it either….

In brief, my change jar is a constant reminder to me that I am rich.

One of the things I like about Heifer is that they can do a lot with a little. Even when my change jar was mostly nickles and pennies, even if all I could scrounge up was twenty bucks at the end of the year, I knew Heifer could use that money to change someone’s life.

These last couple years, I’ve developed a habit of taking my change jar to the bank, cashing it out, and donating that money to Heifer at the end of the Worldbuilders fundraiser. I make other donations too, of course. But this one is special to me.

The change jar is really cool to Oot. Part of this is because we kept all coins away from him for a long while after he swallowed that dime. But the bigger part of it is that he has my genes, and that means he thinks coins are cool. Because they are.


(Luckily, he did not inherit my fashion sense.)

So last year when I was getting ready to take my coins to the bank, Oot asked if he could help. He didn’t really know what I was doing, he mostly just wanted to play with the coins and spend time with me. I’d been busy with the fundraiser, and he hadn’t seen much of me.

First he moved all his coins into his lunchbox. Then he found a new jar he liked better and started moving all the coins into that instead.

While I was waiting, I asked him what we should do with the change from the jar.

Honestly, I was expecting this to be a teachable moment. I was going to explain why we should help other people. Why that was important.

But he didn’t need that explained. He was on board from the beginning. They don’t have chocolate? We should give them some. Not enough food? We should give people seeds. We should give people water. We should give people a cow so they can have milk to drink.

I swear I didn’t coach him at all. This video is edited for time, but if you like, you can watch the full video over here. It shows more of his thought process, as well as me breaking down crying at the end. (Oot didn’t understand why, and sweet boy that he is, he offered to go get me a tissue.)

I could claim I got all weepy because I was low on sleep and a little emotionally fragile at the end of last year’s fundraiser. But while it does tend to be an exhausting time of year for me, that wouldn’t really be the truth. The truth is that he’s so good that it just breaks my heart.

The world seems so bleak sometimes. But he gives me hope. Y’all give me hope too. Every year Worldbuilders reminds me that there a lot of people in the world who want to make things better. You have no idea how much that means to me.

Thanks so much, everyone.

Here’s a link to our donation page if you’d like to chip in.

*     *     *

A few pieces of news today. Note our shiny new widget.

Because I have been known to suck at math, the fabulous Vi Hart lent us her considerable calculatory skills to determine how likely you are to win a prize in the Worldbuilders lottery based on how much you donate.

The odds are *really* good this year. We made our tech guys double check that they were pulling numbers from the right place. It’s absurd how good the odds are, and we’re not even done adding prizes yet.

In other news, the Worldbuilders Team is livestreaming the entire day in the office. I’ll probably be strolling through there as well like a great shambling mythical beast.

We’ve got an AMA tonight as well, along with some of the faboo authors that are helping us out. So feel free to swing by there with your questions. We’ll have answers. Or at least a sleep-deprived level of snark….

One last time, here’s the link to donate.

And here’s the link to the blog that explains all the details of the fundraiser.

Later Space Cowboys,


This entry was posted in Oot, Warm Fuzzies, Worldbuilders 2014. By Pat43 Responses


  1. midobal
    Posted December 9, 2014 at 3:43 AM | Permalink

    You say that we give you hope for wanting to help the world. Well, I believe that the feeling is more than mutual. You’re a fount of inspiration for a lot of us, not only for what you have achieved as an author but how you’re using all that -let’s call them superpowers– to help the world.

    Then there’s Worldbuilders, and all that wonderful people behind it who are dedicating all their effort for a great cause.

    And finally, there’s all the people that come here wishing to help as much as they can.

    I cannot express with words what it means for me to be part of this comunity. To be able to help even if it’s just a little. And, above all, to watch so many people from all over the world working together to help the world. Thank you everybody, you make me proud of being human. Let’s change the world!

  2. Neville Longbottom
    Posted December 9, 2014 at 8:26 AM | Permalink

    The good kinds of Worldbuilders blogs tell us what we can get.

    The great kind tell us who we can be.

    Posted December 9, 2014 at 8:39 AM | Permalink

    Oot’s rocking that mustache. Also that fedora. I think they must be combined.

    Any chance of us getting another big book-bundle box… thing? I don’t remember if it was in the summer fundraiser or last holiday one, but I’ve bought them all and I loved them.

    • Posted December 9, 2014 at 12:46 PM | Permalink

      Not during this fundraiser. We’ll be doing some during the next mid-season fundraiser though….

  4. Sandhya
    Posted December 9, 2014 at 10:39 AM | Permalink

    Not only am I impressed with how smart Oot is, but his attentiveness to you is amazing. What an amazing child you are raising. No wonder you weep.

  5. lovelylass987
    Posted December 9, 2014 at 10:47 AM | Permalink

    I love Oot. You’re teaching him important stuff early on in life. He’s probably going to end up founding his own charity one day, like the Wisconsin Harvest Ninja kid. I’d be crying at the end of that, too.

    Less serious: Your discussion with Oot about fertilizer reminds me of Terry Pratchett’s World of Poo. Also, I love your voice, and I’m glad you made the Auri audiobook.

  6. katherineofyork
    Posted December 9, 2014 at 10:52 AM | Permalink

    Oot is truly a wonderful child.

    This fundraiser gets me excited like almost no other event all year, I love it and I am so pleased at how much money you’ve raised!

  7. Dapple
    Posted December 9, 2014 at 11:04 AM | Permalink

    Damn you Rothfuss for making me cry like a baby. And for being so incredibly awesome that you make the rest of us look bad. Just stop being so freakin’ phenomenally wonderful. You are forcing me to up my game.

    At this year’s school holiday program, my kindergartner has a line to say “Boxing Day is also known as St. Christopher’s Day. It is celebrated the day after Christmas. It is common to give gifts to the needy.” As we were learning about Boxing Day, my kiddo decided that we need to celebrate this year by giving money to Heifer International, “Because there are people with no money, but if we buy them a goat, then they can have some milk to drink and some to sell so their families will be happy.”

    See what you are doing to me here, Rothfuss?! I’d shake my fist at the sky but you aren’t God…yet.

  8. Kthaeh
    Posted December 9, 2014 at 11:09 AM | Permalink

    That is one sweet kid. Hug him for all of us. And by all means, find someone to teach him about gardening if that’s not in your own skill set. Growing food holds more opportunities to be fascinated and blown away than you can probably imagine.

  9. Mashimon
    Posted December 9, 2014 at 11:25 AM | Permalink

    Thank you for sharing this moment with your son. It was incredibly touching and you both have done a wonderful job as parents.

  10. cynrtst
    Posted December 9, 2014 at 11:27 AM | Permalink

    The widget is cool! And I love the Cowboy Bebop send off….

  11. sandibd
    Posted December 9, 2014 at 1:02 PM | Permalink

    Dear Worldbuilders and Pat,

    You made me aware of Heifer International and made me want to make it the official charity of my choice. But this year, with the change in the timing of the campaign, I find myself unable to donate at this time. I hit you last year, and enjoyed the summer fundraiser immensely. I promise you are not forgotten. I promise after the new year, a donation will come your way. I know you had your reasons for changing the time frame of the fundraiser, and I respect that. It just hit me at a bad time and I feel really bad watching all the hype and enjoying the stretch goals being hit and not being able to add to the fun. But, I will get you. I promise. Just when I can.

    • Posted December 9, 2014 at 1:22 PM | Permalink

      No worries, Sandibd. I know where you’re coming from.

    • dorwinrin
      Posted December 9, 2014 at 3:02 PM | Permalink

      Sandibd: This is really hard to explain not being a native speaker and all, but… I wish I could donate 10$ for you so you have at least one chance in the awesome lottery this year. I already donated 20$ this time, so I’m covered lottery-wise ;) It’s not like I am swimming in treasures right now, but I was penniless last summer and I know the feeling when you want to help and you can’t.

      Sandibd, I know you will reject this idea :D because that’s how we roll when we have no money, so I am asking Worldbuilders: is there any way I can donate and make it be credited to a person instead of a page?

      • Kthaeh
        Posted December 10, 2014 at 6:29 AM | Permalink

        I would do this too. I owe the world a favor of this sort. And it’s Worldbuilders-related in fact. Can this happen, Pat?

        • Karissima
          Posted December 10, 2014 at 8:06 AM | Permalink

          I think this would be a really cool thing. It could be set up anonymously. Each person who can’t donate could put their information in as a supporter, and spread word of the campaign and such supportive things. Each person who donates could select to have all or a portion of their donation go to the “supporters”, giving someone who can’t afford to donate a chance in the lottery.
          Though with human pride, you might end up with more donations to supporters than supporters to receive them. :D

          • dorwinrin
            Posted December 11, 2014 at 3:30 PM | Permalink

            Only 4 days to go… I hope this thread doesn’t fall into oblivion among the piles of work they must be facing these days.

          • Amanda
            Posted December 12, 2014 at 11:20 AM | Permalink

            It’s doable, just a little convoluted. You’ll need to put it in honor of sandibd when you make your donation. We’ll keep an eye out for those and then contact sandibd for shipping information if they win. Sound good?

          • dorwinrin
            Posted December 12, 2014 at 9:31 PM | Permalink

            Done! Thank you Amanda for putting time in this tiny (but important for me) donation :D
            @sandibd, you effectively raised at least my 10$ for worldbuilders. Your participation in the lottery is earned and deserved, and I hope you win something cool.

          • Kthaeh
            Posted December 13, 2014 at 5:53 AM | Permalink

            Also done! Good luck in the drawing, sandibd! And thanks, Amanda, for making this happen in the midst of everything. I’m sure you’ve got a million other details to attend to. You’re one more way that Worldbuilders rocks.

  12. Tubusy
    Posted December 9, 2014 at 1:43 PM | Permalink

    You guys make me cry too. Best parents ever. I’m a little jealous you have Oot, and a little jealous Oot has you. <3

  13. jeanwatson
    Posted December 9, 2014 at 2:23 PM | Permalink

    My daughter has raised money for charity in lieu of taking BDay presents each year since she turned 6 in kindergarten. That first year of being in school, we decided she could invite a big crowd of kids to her party, but we didn’t want them to bring presents. She loved the idea of a big party and didn’t need more “stuff” so everybody wins!

    Each year she selects a charity that goes along with her BDay theme. Heifer Intl was the first charity she supported, and she raised over $300. Another year it was World Wildlife Fund to match her safari party. Last year she raised funds for Doctors Without Borders to go along with her Dr Who party theme.

    So now for her 12th BDay, she need ideas for a good charity that would match up with a steampunk party. Any suggestions?

    • si1verdrake
      Posted December 9, 2014 at 2:59 PM | Permalink

      I don’t really know a specific charity, but steampunk seems like it’d match well with a charity that supports underserved children in STEM education. I know a bunch of them exist, but I’m not familiar with the specifics of most of them.

      • si1verdrake
        Posted December 9, 2014 at 3:00 PM | Permalink

        Oh, also, your daughter sounds awesome! Forgot to add that to the reply!

        • Kalam
          Posted December 11, 2014 at 2:01 PM | Permalink

          Oot it´s a boy

      • jeanwatson
        Posted December 14, 2014 at 12:40 AM | Permalink

        She’ll be supporting Girls Who Code this time. Her bday is next month. We hope she can bring them lots of new supporters!

  14. Karyn
    Posted December 9, 2014 at 2:53 PM | Permalink

    I was crying watching that video of Oot. His words touched me more than anything else on your blog. I have two children of my own and seeing them do good and understand the simple idea that we do have a responsibility to care for our brothers and sisters all over the world is one of the best parts of being a parent. We all know that it isn’t right for some people to have in abundance while others live or even die in poverty. It just makes me feel better about my life and our world to know that people still care about other people. One of the greatest lessons from the Bible is the commandment to “love thy neighbor as thyself”. I think it’s the mark of true charity. I want to thank all the people at Worldbuilders and Pat for being a source of good for others to rally behind. Oot is so smart but I think his kind heart was even more amazing in that video. I completely understood why Pat started to cry.

  15. ericturner29
    Posted December 9, 2014 at 3:36 PM | Permalink

    If someone donates $33 bucks, how many lottery entries do they get? Is the answer three?

    If so, I think your widget might be understating the odds. I was able to match the widget results by using the $426,114 dollars donated & 2,391 prizes from the worldbuilders page and a standard binomial distribution. This implicitly assumes that $426,114 will result in 42,611 entries, but the actual number of entries might be much lower if there are multiple people who donated in numbers not divisible by 10.

    And if the number of entries is lower, the odds are even better!


    #pedantic #yousaidthiswasforgeeks #ihatemyselfalittlebitrightnow

  16. b0pp
    Posted December 9, 2014 at 4:04 PM | Permalink

    I don’t want children, but if I did, I would want yours. Er, I mean… I’d want a kid like Oot.

  17. rozh123
    Posted December 9, 2014 at 4:13 PM | Permalink

    Your child is amazing! He is an inspiration to us all.
    I donate to worldbuilders every year from here in the UK, it finishes just before my sisters birthday so I hope to give her an awesome present, either a super cool book/prize or the joy of helping others.

  18. Andrew
    Posted December 9, 2014 at 6:23 PM | Permalink

    Well done, Pat and Sarah(?) I don’t recall your lady friend’s name.

    This young man understands what it’s all about: loving others and giving out of our abundance. This is a direct reflection of the same loving-kindness which inspired you to create Worldbuilders. I have been telling all of my friends about it and posting constantly. Everything about this is good. I am thinking about creating a team for next year’s fundraiser and helping out in a more significant way. Please, don’t ever slow down with this wonderful charity. Keep pushing for more impact.

    And consider doing a parenting course. I find myself fearful of the rising generation. Sadly, your son is a rare case.

  19. someone_else
    Posted December 9, 2014 at 6:30 PM | Permalink

    Your “change jar” story was one that has stuck with me… I think about it every now and again. I was thinking about it just the other week, when I brought in my change jar to do a little “matching donations” with my middle school EBD class as we were raising money for the food bank. I realized for the first time I had quarters in my jar. It was almost a giddy feeling, and made me grateful that I have the ability to share what I have… with Worldbuilders and others.

    As for your Oot, he is quite the precious child. Thanks for sharing that… with what I see in the classroom on an almost daily basis sometimes I need a reminder that there are good, innocent children that have wonderful, caring parents.

  20. z-squared
    Posted December 9, 2014 at 8:33 PM | Permalink

    Oot uses”and so on”? Correctly?!

    I do believe he has won the internet today.

  21. thatmikelee
    Posted December 9, 2014 at 8:48 PM | Permalink

    Reading that first paragraph made me laugh. When I first started reading the blog I didn’t realize that this was the case and was horrified because I thought you had actually named your child “Oot”. I didn’t find out what was really going on until months later as I was perusing the archives. Pretty funny.

  22. SporkTastic
    Posted December 9, 2014 at 10:27 PM | Permalink

    Thank you for sharing that beautiful moment with us. Made me cry, too. You’re doing amazingly with Oot, and I’m sure Cutie Snoo will likewise turn out to be a wonderful person. You’re a good man, Charlie Brown.

  23. Tait
    Posted December 9, 2014 at 11:18 PM | Permalink

    Good things are happening.

    For my birthday this year, my five year old daughter gave me a $1 coin she got from the tooth fairy (one of three so far).

    I thanked her and asked her what I should do with it.

    She thought about it and decided I should send it in to Worldbuilders to Help Buy Goats and Ducks.

  24. XETWS
    Posted December 10, 2014 at 4:47 AM | Permalink

    Oot is fantastic.
    I wonder what Shadow Ops on the table means…

    Well, i’ll just ask Myke Cole at the AMA. ;-)

  25. AlistairM
    Posted December 10, 2014 at 7:04 AM | Permalink

    I love this! I just watched the unedited version and got a lump in my throat just now. It must be so gratifying to have you’re own child say these things un-led.

    The part when he comes out with the cow idea is my favourite bit.

    One day when I do have children I hope I can do as good a job raising them as Pat has here.

    It does make me wonder if the human base line is like how Oot is thinking now and if we get influenced by bad external factors.

    Glad I saw this, it makes you feel warm and fuzzy inside, like eating a light bulb without the medical complications.

  26. NatiBaseggio
    Posted December 10, 2014 at 7:51 AM | Permalink

    your kid is so adorable and smart. Honestly, you have restored my faith that is possible to raise an amazing child these days… I have younger cousins and sometimes they frustrate my desire to be a mom.

  27. Tubusy
    Posted December 10, 2014 at 10:58 AM | Permalink

    Whenever the world feels hopeless I shall watch the video of Oot.

  28. justajenjen
    Posted December 11, 2014 at 8:39 AM | Permalink

    What a beautiful, thoughtful, delightful young man you have there. I get the tears of pride thing, I really do. My five year old, who is known on the internet as Nerdbaby, and I were doing our grocery shopping and there were volenteers from the local food bank taking donations. They had little flyers with all the things they were most looking to get. Nerdbaby wanted to buy ALL the things on the list and told me he would not get LEGO that time so we could afford it. He did finally understand that it would cost more than a minifig that he wanted, and he was happy to pick out Spiderman bodywash and toothpaste to donate to the foodbank. “Because Spiderman is cool, and I have LOTS of Spiderman, so, I will give this.” Yep, big weepy mess time for Mommy.

  29. JennInPDX
    Posted December 12, 2014 at 1:30 PM | Permalink

    What a sweet young man you have there. If only there was a way to teach all the youngsters these important lessons of the benefits of giving as opposed to receiving this would be a really wonderful place someday.
    Thanks for sharing (I cried with you).

  30. martus7ka
    Posted January 21, 2015 at 9:50 AM | Permalink

    A first timer. I picked up The Name of the Wind for its name and volume. I read fast and read non-fictiononly when I am sick or travel and need a long story. Yours wasn’t just long and I was soon on The Wise Man’s Fear and picked up The slow Regard of Silent Things. After reading it I thought we may be unlikely friends. I am a writer/photographer with a scientific background as a Conceptual Neuroscientist. I constructed an amalgam language of my own from obejcts and words. Photographed my 3D collages and told my own story. No it isn’t a graphic novel, no it isn’t anything you have imagnied. The chapter I want to share with you is titled ” I Was Raised by a Typewriter” – it was a broken one….. It is part of my autobiography. I collect Children’s picture books (4,000 +) and come from an old Transylvanian storyteller family. Live in Manhattan and in the middle of the forest of the high Rockies. Visit me. You can kiss as many llamas as you want – bears and cajotees and Elk too. Hundreds of cows. How can you read my chapter and look at the photographs vowen into it? Manhattan or Colorado. Martha

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