Having a gratitude practice, I think, makes you more aware of the ungratefulness around you. I've also noticed that I am more aware of selfish gratitude. "I'm so thankful for this swimming pool of money I can dive into every day." Actually, I've never heard that exact sentence, but I think it's a good example. Really though, it's the lack of gratitude that gets to me the most. Sometimes it even makes me feel slightly ill. Hearing someone be ungrateful has become that nails on the chalkboard sound that every one hates. It's even worse when the ungratefulness is directed right at me.
I picked up a new Frozen cup for the Cabbage over the weekend and when I pulled it out of the shopping bag and handed it to her, she said "I have two Frozen cups at my mom's house." Later on she requested peaches, peas, four chicken nuggets and a hot dog for dinner. I made all of those things and when I set it in front of her, she said "why didn't you cut up the peaches?" Last time I cut up the peaches I got "why DID you cut up the peaches?" All of these times Michael has instantly jumped in to tell her how her responses are rude and ungrateful. Her words still sting and I have to remind myself that she is a four year old. Gratitude is a learned behavior. We start off with this perfect little baby that we wait on hand and foot, taking care of every need before they even know they need it. Then one day that baby is a child with functioning motor skills and we realize "hey, you can wipe your own butt." It's got to feel as sudden to them as having a rug pulled up under their feet. There's got to be a moment when they realize "Wait. You expect me to do things for myself?" I'm sure for those not inclined to self reliance that this moment of realization is scary.
Gratitude comes with time and knowledge and experience. For some, gratitude is learned through loss. Struggle is an excellent teacher of gratitude. Combined, loss and struggle can be the drill Sargent to gratitude boot camp. I'd rather the Cabbage learn gratitude in a more gentler kinder way because I believe that understanding gratitude is one of the ways you survive loss and struggle. So, we are working on gratitude in our house. I am mindful to thank the Cabbage for every little act as simple as throwing her candy wrapper in the inside trash. We have inside and outside trash. Outside trash is recycling and every time she has to throw something away she asks "inside trash or outside trash?" even though 98% of the time it's inside trash. If I ask her to do something, I always thank her for doing the task. I keep thinking that eventually she will notice and the words and actions will begin to sink in. But I also want her to learn that gratitude is more than being thankful for stuff or for being waited on. Snippets of time. Opportunities of joy. Moments of happiness. I want her to learn the importance of being thankful for all of those things.
This week I am thankful for the reminder of patience and the need for kindness and gentleness. I am thankful for the rain even though it slowed Michael's progress on the chicken coop. I am thankful for the sun that has come out to greet us today, on our first day of Spring. I am thankful for the beautiful weather expected this weekend mostly because I know that it means scooter rides. Of course, and as always, I am thankful for you.
Here's to a sunny weekend and bright Thankful Friday!