I am being completely honest when I say that I am not doing this post because of the time of year! But thankfulness does happen to fit in nicely with the season, eh?
I'm not shy about the fact that I am constantly trying to figure out the best way to parent our daughter. As I've mentioned many times, she stretches me, she tests me, and she often leaves me stumped... forcing mom to learn and figure out the answers to questions that I stumble over when she confidently asks. While I hate that I'm not always prepared for her and often wonder if I'm failing her by not always knowing what I'm doing... I'm kind of grateful that it's "our thing". We have something special... learning and navigating through our relationship and this parent-child deal. THANKFULLY she is so forgiving. I could really not be more grateful that my first child, who happens to try me the most, is such quick forgiver as she is the guinea pig of my parenting. I know that the hardships of our relationship are preparing me, and refining me, for the next kids and I often feel really terrible for her because of that. But it almost seems that she likes having that role... the one that teaches me and learns with me. It's absolutely strengthened our bond and we have such a special relationship that has kind of been through the refiners fire. I'm confident it will get better over time, as we figure out these little bumps together. So I hope and so it seems...
A couple weeks back, I was venting to my own mom, who I used to stretch and test on a daily basis. She often laughs and reminds me of the curse of karma when I tell her about mine and Scarlett's little debacles. The other day I was telling her that I feel it's never enough for my girl... no matter what, it seems like she is always looking for what's around the corner instead of being happy with what she has in that moment (sounds like most kids, right??). This issue of never being satisfied, bleeds into all of our other issues and little arguments throughout the day. How do you teach gratitude to little kids? How do we help them focus on all they have instead of all they don't have? My mom (who apparently dealt with this same issue when I was little;)) suggested asking her randomly throughout the day what she was thankful for. In the moment or just whenever I thought of it, turning to her and asking, "Scarlett, what are you thankful for right now?"
So this little challenge usually takes place around meals when I'm working in the kitchen and she walks in demanding an activity or asking why she doesn't get a snack right then because she's "staaaarving". I'll casually ask, not making a fuss over it, "Scarlett, what are you thankful for right this second?" and she'll usually respond with something that applies to her immediate thoughts or frustrations (sarcasm from a five-year-old can be quite comical). But then I'll keep digging, asking again and sometimes again and again. Eventually she gives me some really great, almost profound answers. Her answers are sometimes things I didn't know her capable of recognizing as blessings. Next, I'll rattle off some things I'm grateful for in that exact moment. Sometimes, it's things as deep as my faith, good health and members of my family... but usually I stick to simple things that help her stay tuned into the game. Like a cheese grader, plates to eat off of or even the music that we are listening to in these moments. This new little activity usually results in some great conversations about how much we have, how little we need and how full our lives are.
And BOOM! Just like that, she's teaching me.... again. In this moment, I'm thankful for a daughter who pushes me and refines me.