Grateful that my Kids Comprehend Gratitude

This year, more than anything else, and of course, there is so much to be thankful for always. But this year, it is the fact that my children understand the concept of gratitude. That my little Bean, at five, wants to write thank-you cards to anyone who does something nice for him. He dictated thank-you cards this year to people who had sent him birthday cards. They were full of five-year old chatter that didn’t necessarily make sense, but was clearly sweet and full of good intention, wrapping up with questions like, “Do you like toast? Did you know I ride a mini-bike?” And big, scrawling letters to spell his own name, B E A N

And then, I lost the cards.

I am such a heel.

Somewhere between here, and work, where I have my own cute stamps in my drawer, and back home again for an address, lost in a stack of something else, then cleared away with a pile of papers cluttering the counter. I’ll find them, because they were too darned precious to not send.

But the fact that he spent a Sunday afternoon at the kitchen table with me, choosing which cards to send to whom, and then telling me all the things on his heart to say to people, that part right there, makes me want to scoop him into my arms and hold that little boy. Hold him even though he’s too heavy for me to carry anymore, and he daydreams about someday being Big and big enough to call me Little Woman and carry me. All too soon, he will actually be that big, and I am so very grateful that I get to be his mom.

Each of my boys is a gift beyond measure.

Benjamin, with his art and all his creativity, his poet-warrior stance, full of fire and tenderness, ready to tear the world apart one minute and build it back together better block by crumb of sand the next. He is a whirlwind, and a lot to handle, and at the same time, he is a wonder to behold, a constant amazement. To see his eyes light up in the act of creation, or to see him touched to tears over the beauty of hard fought understanding, is part of my joy to be near him.

My grown boys, Joey and Michael are already out there in the word making their way, across a state border, so holding them is rare.

Joey reminds me so much of me at his age. I had a ton of potential too, with artistic abilities and people skills. He is a great listener and knows how to get a job done. He could do anything he sets his mind to, and that leaves a lot of directions to try, and possibly a bit of spinning and experimenting to do, to see which path offers the most promise. He has just been accepted into a medical field of study, so he will probably land on his feet in a chosen career long before I ever did. I love his easy-going nature, the way he doesn’t worry, the way he won’t hurry, and the way he’s always steady as a rock, dependable Joey.

Michael is our oldest, with a family of his own, granddaughters we don’t get to see nearly enough, because he is starting up his business right as we are starting ours up again. We are both at the starting place, and we both have little kids at home. We are contemporaries, and we are the grandparents all at the same time. Seems kind of crazy, but it’s true.

Michael was the one I could get angry with, but never stay angry at for even a few minutes, because he’s so smart, and could be such a smart-alec. He used a poem by a guy named Robert Frost for an English project once. Not THE Robert Frost, but a guy named the same, and writing poetry about monkeys flinging poo. And I got upset because that seemed like mocking poetry, which I love, and I was missing the teen-aged humor in the whole thing, and taking myself too seriously, until I caved, and offered my signature “I’m Sorry” bowl of ice-cream on the front porch. I could never stay mad at him, because at the base of all he does, is a principle and a logic, and a staunch adherence to what is right and true and real. Michael was sixteen when Ben was born. He became a great big brother by the time Ben was running around and talking, but before that, if we tried to coax him to talk to his little brother, who was bouncing with glee in his highchair at the sight of him, Michael would nonchalantly say, “He doesn’t speak English.” Which was true, of course, no arguing that.

What is so fun, is to see him happily babbling at his own baby girl, and climbing trees with his four and a half year old daughter, as well as getting suckered into tea parties and wearing hats and feather boas. He is an adorable dad.

How it all comes full circle.

My parents are with us this year for Thanksgiving. My sons are quoting The Jabberwocky to Dad, and challenging him to games of Chess. Mom and I were cooking together in the kitchen yesterday. Well, she did most of the work. I’m still operating with one hand. But we made deviled eggs, and a layered jello parfait, and we frosted the brownies. We got the little things out of the way so Scott could do all the main ingredients today.

We have a fire in the wood-burning stove, and a glorious day of food before us. I feel rich in love and gratitude. Happy Thanksgiving and may your circle be full of good memories of love and laughter, and perhaps some really ridiculous fights that took the cake. In our house, we brush off our egos and share some ice cream on the porch to make up, or as we do with the little guys, we shut up and paint. However it works for you, I hope you see the beauty and the wonder in the family all around you, the one you live with, or the one you have created or chosen. Many blessings this Thanksgiving.

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