Monday, May 6, 2013

Planting gratitude

Sometimes I start to lose hope as a parent.  It seems as if I say the same things over and over, and nothing changes.  I wonder if anything is getting through, if the seeds I'm planting will ever take root.  But all it takes is a little spark of light in the darkness to keep me holding on, waiting to see what will grow.

This weekend, we took our kids to one of my favorite local festivals.  It also supports the school our daughter attends.  We had spent hours working in preparation for the event, lots of money on tickets, and lots of time weaving through the crowd and standing in line.  There were strawberry shortcakes, musicians, vendors, and tons of games for the kids.  Of course we left with two whining, disappointed kids and at least one grumpy parent when the money ran out and it was time to go home.  Although we had prepared them, it seems that we had not provided ENOUGH fun for them.

As I looked around me at the excess--the food, the balloons, the cheap plastic prizes--my anger started to burn.  We didn't have to provide this opportunity for them; we could have stayed at home.  How many children would love to have the opportunity to gorge themselves on treats and games and yet never get the chance?  How can we, as frugal as we usually are, raising children that are so ungrateful and entitled?  I have to admit that my reaction to them was not one of gratitude.

Fast forward a day, and we are shopping for a book for Maryn with a gift card she received for her birthday.  It took FOREVER.  She picked up every book and put it down.  She pointed out every book she already owned, and some that she thought Brady might like.  I tried to be patient as bedtime loomed ever closer.  Finally she made her selection and we prepared to go.  I realized that I had forgotten about teacher appreciation week and wondered if I would be pushing my luck to mention it.  But I didn't want to make another trip out, and I asked Maryn if she wanted to help find something for her teacher.  She lit up with an excitement that outshone her anticipation to buy a gift for herself.  With a sparkle in her eye, she selected a small box of chocolates to go with a gift card.  This morning, she drew a picture for her teacher that we used to wrap the small present.  She bounced off to school eager to give the gift.  As her teacher opened it, Maryn's smile was so big and proud.  She was happier in giving that she was in receiving.

I think my Grinch heart grew three sizes this day as I saw her love of giving to someone else.  Perhaps when I think that my efforts are in vain, my kids are instead planing seeds of gratitude into my own life.  I only hope they are patient enough to watch them grow.

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