My daughter Shannon desperately wants “Shake it Up” Barbie Dolls. They are characters from a TV show she likes. She went on-line, and researched the dolls, and asked me if she could have them. I said “I don’t think so.” My girls literally have over 100 Barbie dolls, given to them on every occasion over the past ten years, handed down by family and friends whose children have outgrown them. She really doesn’t need another doll! But she wants them.
The conversations went like this: “Mom can I have $30?” “No!”
Ten minutes later: “Mom, Can you take me to Target?” “No.”
Later in the day: “Hey Mom, can I ask you a question? “ “What?” “Can I have $30.” “No!”
For days and days!
I was outside talking to my neighbor and she yelled out the window “Hey, Mom!” “What?’ “Thirty Dollars??”
We were at a party on Saturday, and in the middle of a song she walked off the dance floor, came over to the table where I was sitting, and whispered in my ear “Thiiiirty doooollllars”. She is like the paperboy in Better Off Dead…TWO DOLLARS!
I decided that when the school years ends, if her report card is good, I will get her those dolls, as an end of the year present. So I told her on Sunday. She thinks it’s torture to wait until the end of June. But she has finally relented.
And now that she knows she will get them eventually, something has happened. She has changed her attitude. When I give her breakfast in the morning she says “Thank you mom, for the breakfast”. Last night before bed she said “Thank you mom, for reading to me”. This morning she said “Thank you mom, for walking me to school.”
She is thanking me for everything. And while is seems a bit much, it doesn’t sound ingenuous. It sounds like, maybe, she has realized what gratitude is. Along with it, as an added bonus, she is becoming mindful of all of the things that I do for her. And I, in turn, am getting some positive reinforcement, which, lets face it, we all can use! I don’t do things for my kids because I want them to thank me, but I do want them to be grateful. And hearing it lets me know she is, at least in some small way, conscious of her own gratitude.
I always try to be consciously grateful. Because of yoga, I am consciously, mindfully grateful for my own breath, for my body, and all that it can and can’t do, for my mind, and all of the thoughts it has, crazy or not. I am grateful for the people who move in and out of my life, for the things they teach me, the lessons I learn. I am grateful for the people who are (more) permanent fixtures in my life, and all of the little things they do for me on a daily basis.
But I realized, as I was listening to Shannon thank me for packing her lunch this morning, that I don’t really vocalize it. It’s not that I take these people or things for granted. I do appreciate them, but I don’t often say it out loud. And I know that when I say things out loud, when I make them a part of my daily vocabulary, they manifest. So in order to truly manifest gratitude, I have to speak gratitude.
I am going to try verbalizing my gratitude, for the big and little things. I will seem like a very well mannered person, thanking people everywhere. I will thank my girls for every hug they give me. I will thank John when he comes home from work, for the time he spends earning money for our family. I will thank my mom for the phone calls every day, even if there is nothing new to talk about. I will thank my neighbor, for the beautiful flowers she has planted that brighten up my days. I will thank our crossing guard, for her daily countdown to summer, and safe crossings every day. I will thank the mailman, for bringing me my bills, I will thank the woman at CVS, for her big smile and good service the next time I run in to buy milk. I will thank the stranger who stops his car, so that I can jog across the street. I will thank the little chickadees that built a nest in my birdhouse, for the hours of enjoyment they have given my family this spring. And each time I take a run, or practice yoga, I will thank myself, for doing something good.
I don’t know if Shannon can keep this up until the end of June, but I am going to learn from her. I will make “Thank You” my mantra for a while. And, the more I verbalize it, the more I will realize that there are a million things to be grateful for, each and every day.