Thankful with a side of Gratitude

Each Thanksgiving before the meal we say a prayer of thanks, sometimes going around the circle and having each person share something they are grateful for. While we make a point to do this on Thanksgiving, we also work to carry on the tradition throughout the year. Being grateful for what we have, the people in our lives, the joys and beauties we are allowed to experience, and addressing it in the moment, just feels good.

I was asked to write a letter for a girlfriend’s daughter for a retreat she is attending. I have known this young woman since she was born and have watched her grow into an amazing teen. In the letter I was asked to include memories, thoughts and feelings. It was an easy letter to write. When my friend’s daughter was young I joined her family for dinner. Her mom and dad were there, along with me. We started by saying grace. At the end of the prayer, she added what she was thankful for. She said, “Ms. Tricia, I love you.” It melted my heart. It was so precious. She looked earnestly at her mom and said, “Mom, I love you.” Then looked at her dad and said, “Dad, I love you.” She had us all in the palm of her hand. She took a deep breath, turned back to some candles that were on the table, and said, “Candles, I love you.” She then looked at her plate and continued, “Chicken nuggets, I love you.” My friend, her husband and I burst into tears laughing. Being put into the same category as candles and chicken nuggets was humbling, and hilarious.  What I remember most from that experience was the innocence of my friend’s daughter. She believed in what she was saying. She was truly grateful for the things before her…people, candles and all. It reminded me that we can find gratitude in anything and everything around us, and there is no point in putting gratitude off when it’s starring you in the face.

How do you give thanks? How do you show gratitude? Happy Thanksgiving.

I’ll be enjoying some time off with family and will be back in early December.

The Great Football Debate

Are you a parent who has concerns about letting your child play football?

I have shared in previous posts that my oldest son loves football and really wants to play. I love watching college football, and partly blame myself for getting him interested in the sport to begin with. My husband and I have allowed our son to play flag football up to this point. While we were hoping that would appease his desire to play the game, you can see his desire to play full-contact football everytime he watches a game, sees a high school player suited up, or walks into a sporting goods store. When he saw that you could buy football pads and helmets in a store you could see his eyes light up with delight. You could almost read his mind. I want those pads.

Our son recently asked about playing contact football with my husband and I. “I want to play!” he pleaded. My immediate response was “no way.” I followed it up with many talking points that backed up my position — it’s not safe, too many people get hurt, it can negatively impact your long-term quality of life, etc. My son didn’t hear anything after I said “no.” Instead of hearing me out, like any nine year old, he got more passionate with his plea. “You have to let me play. You just have to.” His petition lasted a full five minutes. He seems to have some talent (according to his biased mom), but even if he physically can compete, I’m not sure I’ll ever be ready for him to. While I wasn’t willing to budge, my husband was willing to hear him out. “We’ll consider it when you are in high school, and you show us you can compete, not get hurt and keep up your grades.”  My initial reaction was “what?”, but after thinking about it for a minute it made sense. Forbidding our son from playing would only make him want to play it more. I don’t want my child to miss out on experiencing something he wants to, but I also want to protect him and am responsible for helping him make good decisions. Allowing him to play football right now isn’t something I’m willing to do. I’m hoping (hopeful?) that with all the evidence and news around body and brain injuries in the sport, more will be done to make it safer so kids can enjoy the sport without having to sacrifice long-term health.

How do you talk to your child when they want to try something you’re not comfortable with them doing?

 

What a Jerk!

I have to admit. I am probably not always my ideal self when I am driving a car. While I had grand plans for quelling my need to verbalize my disdain for disrespectful drivers while my kids were in the car with me, I have failed.

After picking the kids up one afternoon and heading to the house, I pulled onto a street that only had enough room to let one car pass at a time. I saw someone was coming the other direction and decided to wait for them to clear the street so I could go. It was going well, until a driver behind me, who didn’t understand why I was waiting decided to take matters into their own hands. He drove around me, and quickly understood why I hadn’t moved forward. He quickly pulled over to the side, and thankfully avoided causing an accident. My blood pressure on the other hand shot up. How dare he? I thought. I felt disrespected by the other drive and really didn’t like it. “What a jerk!” I said aloud. I continued to refer to this poor man as a jerk all the way down the street. It was almost like I couldn’t help myself.

As we neared the end of the street and I probably used the word ‘jerk’ a dozen times. I finally started to cool off. I could feel the tension in my body lessen. I took a deep breath. The driver turned left and we turned right. That definitely helped. It finally occured to me that both of my boys had been listening to me. “I shouldn’t have called that man a jerk, that was wrong of me,” I said. I proceeded to try to explain why I had gotten so upset, but my sons weren’t buying it. “Mom, jerk is a bad word. You shouldn’t say it,” my older son said. “Yea,” my younger son chimed in. It was one of those moments, where I had to agree with my sons. As much as the other driver may have “offended” me, it wasn’t on purpose, and I’m sure I’ve done the same thing unknowingly to other drivers myself. I certainly wouldn’t want them to be upset with me, or to carry that anger around with them. “You’re right,” I said to my boys, “you’re right.” We were quiet most of the way home.

Later that day, I took my older son down to soccer practice. I had to go through a busy intersection and saw two drivers having a similar experience to what I had had before. To me, it was clear one driver was causing the angst, but clearly wasn’t taking responsibility for it. I’m not sure if it was empathy or what that prompted me to once again say, “Wow, that guy is being a jerk!” He wasn’t being a jerk to me, but the other driver. I quickly realized I had said, “jerk” again and owned it. “I said ‘jerk’ again. I’ve got to quit saying that word.” My son agreed, “Yea, Mom, maybe we should put tape over your mouth.” He said it so innocently and matter-of-factly I couldn’t disagree with him. Instead of getting upset, it made me laugh. “You’re right, ” I said, “maybe we should.” My son taught me a lesson that day: that as much as we’d like to think we’re teaching our kids, they are teaching us too. I’m reminded that I need to try to be a more patient driver and better model what that looks like for my boys.

What have you learned from your child?

The Fall-t in Our Stars

What is the last book you read that stayed with you after finishing it? It made you think. It made you appreciate what you have. It touched you in some way.

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green is such a book for me. Yes, it’s of the Young Adult genre, and targeted for the teenage demographic, but each of us has some part of our teenage self still inside us, right?

For me, The Fault in Our Stars is about living life, really living while you are able. Pushing yourself to experience things even when you aren’t sure you’ll like the outcome. Letting no task (or story) go unfinished.

As time falls back this weekend, I’m reminded of life’s timeline. How it can feel very linear and static — predictable. Each season comes and goes. I experience great joy during the Fall: cooler temperatures, changing colors, and warm cider; and also great sadness: missing the warmer days, missing seeing leaves (of any color) on the trees, and missing the sun (there will be many gray days ahead). It almost seems unfair that a season can have both affects on you. But Fall is a great reminder for life. It reminds us that living things die, but great rebirth is just around the corner. That life is temporary.

I am aware of the beauty of Fall all around me. I look forward to enjoying the season as it comes. I can imagine grabbing a cup of warm cider, a nice warm blanket and finding a comfortable chair to reflect on this knowledge. Then perhaps, I may turn my attention to a good book.

Any suggestions?