Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Tackle It Tuesday; Gratitude

I have been thinking a lot about gratitude lately. Do I show it? Do I show enough example for my kids to display it?

It all came to a head yesterday afternoon. As I have mentioned, tables have turned recently and we are severely struggling to make ends meet. I spent yesterday applying for nighttime jobs to try to supplement our income a bit. I don't mind taking another job if it means that we won't feel this panic any longer, especially going into Christmas.

Because of this, I went to a consignment shop a few weeks ago and got Noah both a fall jacket and a winter coat. He didn't like the winter coat, and disliked it so much that he "lost" it. I understood the situation...the coat was quite a bit too big for him and didn't have a hood so I finally decided to break down and spend the money to get him a good winter coat. I justified it by saying that it had to make it through two kids. I'm sure the old coat will turn up and then he'll have an extra and it will fit him better next year.

I found a good deal and was happy to get it for him. I knew it would keep him warm and it wasn't "puffy" so I knew he wouldn't complain. When we got home from school yesterday, I said, "Hey Noah, I got you a new winter coat. Please come try it on." Rather than, "Thanks Mom", I got "Mom, No, I don't want to try things on." And he proceeded to throw a bit of a tantrum. Then when Steve got home, he went to go take the boys outside to play. He told Noah to go get his new coat and Noah's response was, "No, I'm going to throw that coat in the garbage. I don't want it!"

So now I get a call at work from Steve yelling me at me because he's mad at Noah. So I told him, "Fine, I'll take the coat back. Then I can put that money toward getting the mortgage paid."

When I got home, I indeed went and put the new winter coat away. Steve says, "Here we go again."

Apparently, there had been quite a battle when I got off the phone about said winter coat. Now all of a sudden it's, "No Daddy, no Mommy, I want the coat" begging and pleading the while. At bedtime, while I was doing books with Noah, we spent some time talking about gratitude. We talked about people who don't have all of the things they need. I was also very honest with him about Mommy and Daddy not having a lot of money right now and how we worked very hard to get him the coat and when he doesn't appreciate it, it hurts our feelings. He seemed genuinely repentant.

This morning was the coldest morning of the year. The winter coat is still hanging in my closet, out of sight. I was VERY tempted to send him off with no coat, but that would just be abusive. So I sent him with his fall jacket and hat and gloves. A small, very bad, piece of me is really hoping that Noah feels a little cold on the playground today. I hope I am teaching him a lesson and not scarring him for life.

What does this have to do with Tackle It Tuesday, you may ask?

Let me tell you.

Aaron received gifts for his birthday all week last week. When someone gives you a gift, the proper thing to do, whether they were there when you opened it or not, is to write a thank you note. I was told this when I was younger, and it is maybe the ONE thing that I credit my mom for in my upbringing.

I think I mentioned this after Noah's birthday. We always get them written, but for some reason, I tend to forget to put them into the mail...every time

So here sat Aaron yesterday getting them all written. I bought the kind where you just write the person's name, the gift, and the child's name as a way to make it easier. Aaron is actually writing his name LESS clearly since school started...I'm not sure why.

The nice thing about my Grandma Buelke is that every time she has ever sent a present for one kid, she always sends one for the other. Noah got a really neat seed book from her.

So he wanted to write one too.

Now I just need to make sure they make it into the mail today.

Steve has done one thing every night at dinner ever since the boys were really small, that is starting to become a habit. Whomever made dinner each night, right after prayer, Steve always says "Thank you mommy for making dinner" or I say "Thank you daddy for making lunch". It is now becoming habit for the boys to race to see who can thank us for the meal first.

So gratitude can come in many forms. I don't expect the boys to bend over backward just because I washed their underwear. But I worry that I am not displaying enough gratitude in my own life, and therefore not instilling it in my children.

So I open it up to you, my readers. How do you teach gratitude in your household? How would you have handled the coat issue?

I will be eagerly awaiting your thoughts.


Courtney said...

The coat issue is a hard one. I wouldn't have let him wear it today either so I don't think you were too hard on him.

I always tell someone who held the door thank you and then I make my girls say it too. It may take an extra 10 seconds to get one of them being stubborn to say it, but it is worth it to me.

They always tell me thank you for their dinner and I always tell them thank you for cleaning up their toys. It is their job, but telling them thank you makes it so much better for them. The way I see it, making dinner is my job too, but they still always make sure to tell me thank you.

There is a book! I have a lot more, but I won't bore you with those.

Anonymous said...

This is an incredibly honest post. You really grabbed my heart on this one. I started trying to say thank you to God out loud with my kids when something good happens, even the smallest thing. It's an effort we make at our house too, but it's really hard! I think until they're a little older, they don't really get what they don't have because everyone they encounter has what they have (food, houses, etc).

bethn said...

Gratitude is so tough. I'm also really bad about getting Thank you notes in the mail. We try to remind the kids to say THnak You whenever it's appropriate. Sometimes it works, others not so much.

As for the coat I have to admit the other day Dylan refused to wear a coat to the bus stop and I let him stand there and be cold. He's also been wearing a light fall coat, even when it's cold because he will NOT wear his new winter coat. A little cold won't hurt them. And if they learn a lesson all the better. At least that's what the pediatrician said when I told him Dylan was refusing shoes. He said I should let him walk to school in his bare feet once or twice and he'd learn to wear his shoes, so I figure he'll learn to wear his coat too.

Good luck with getting Noah to wear the coat.