It happens: A teary round or two of “What are you most grateful for this year?” ends with a child slathered in gravy and pumpkin pie filling wrapped up in your arms while you thank the heavens/universe/parenting gods for getting such a good one.
Sure, he has marred the new hardwood floors by setting off the sparks on his scooter brakers up and down the front hall. And yes, she has no inside voice. Perhaps he sasses back…to the teacher. Don’t forget that their combined Christmas lists have 172 items they NEED. Oh, and occasionally they do terrorize the baby and dog and neighbor kid with glue stick light sabers. But that one precious moment when you heard, “I am most grateful for Mommy/Daddy/Granny/the earth/Ghandi”? That wiped the slate clean.
So how can you fill the dry-erase board of childhood full of more of these moments (and less of the terror, tantrums, back-talk and greed)? I am not the Guru of Gratitude, but I am pretty insistent that there will be time for kindness, thank yous and blessing counting just about every day (DAMMIT!). This takes practice and repetition and commitment to see these little rituals through eye rolls and other forms of small-person resistance. Here are some of our favorite ways of staying grateful long after the dog with glue-matted hair has licked up the last of the stuffing crumbs.
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