Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Raising Thoughtful Children

Thoughfulness is a lost art. Everyone is busy and moving rapidly through life. There's no opportunity for sincerity in a tweet. True consideration is masked by birthday reminders on Facebook. People you've never laid eyes on wish you a Happy Birthday on Facebook. Timely and pleasing, absolutely. Thoughtful, I say no.

My Nanny was truly the most thoughtful person in the world. I was 20 years old when I moved to California and the only person I knew was E. My new world was full of foreign experiences and constant adjustment and all I could do was hold my head up and push through. I never told anyone how scared I was back then, but she knew. She mailed me a handwritten letter once a week. Every week. For years. A quick hello. A well timed word of encouragement. A small check for no reason. They were the most thoughtful gestures of my life. She knew I needed her and it was her way of being there for me without suggesting I pack up and come home. She was truly, truly thoughtful. The impact of her sincerity is not lost on me. When I spoke at her funeral I wasn't even a little surprised to see the ocean of people who wanted to be near her one more time. I always want to believe that I was her favorite and she treated me special, but I know that she extended the same gestures to everyone she encountered. Her bosses, the summer interns in her office, my less deserving cousins . . . She held no prejudice in her consideration.

I want to raise children who leave the same impact on the world. It is the job that I take the most seriously. I cannot take back my own trangressions or erase unkind words. I can only try do better in the future and the people at my kitchen counter ARE the future. They are learning to write thank you notes and call their Grandparents to ask how they're doing. They choose gifts that the recipient will cherish. They offer assistance to those who need it. They are required to go through the motions of consideration so they will evolve as truly thoughtful adults. It is a gift I'd like to leave them when I'm not around to pack their lunches anymore.

The Princess likes to color and draw and such when My Athlete is doing homework. Last night was no different. She was hard at work on a coloring book about fire safety. Cool! Woven into her chatter about not hiding from firemen even if they sound like Darth Vader and never playing with matches I saw her lightbulb go on. Quite cynically I was thinking "oh, this should be good."  Shame on me.

"Mama, it's Rory's birthday tomorrow."

"Awesome. Are you going to wish her happy birthday when you see her?"

"Can I make her a card?"

You've never seen a grown woman so feverishly dig for card stock, stickers and markers.

"I think that's a wonderful idea. How sweet of you."

"I know."

Well, thoughtful is a process. At least we're trying.

13 comments:

Emmy said...

Yes at least you are trying. I am horrible about thank you cards and that sort of things.
I do try and teach my kids the basics, but when I am bad at remembering myself it makes it more tricky.

Tooj said...

I love writing thank you cards and I have loved doing it for my small children. My son just turned five and he'll be writing his own from here on out, but I cherished the time I was able to do them and have him sign his name. I know I've at least gotten this same message that you attempt through to him - his teachers dote on his thoughtfulness with his fellow students and his sincerity with thank yous. I am still working diligently on my monster 18 month old. He's ornery and stubborn, but I'm starting to see the light.

I had a post VERY similar to this drafted, and then I deleted it. It didn't sound right. I might have to try again...if only to reach others who can reach "the future".

I inherited a pen pal this last year and as ambitious as "once a week" sounds, I just might have to try it. I know how great it feels to get those letters of cheer in the mail, and how excited I am to mail one.

Happy Tuesday!

Future Mama said...

How sweet!! That is such a great idea! I hope to remember tricks like these to teach my kids one day! I LOVE the name and theme of your blog... so true! Just gotta keep one foot in front of the other! I'm trying to remember that a lot right now!

I found you through SITS today!

Tyne said...

What a great post... and doesn't it take a conscious effort on our part? Thanks for encouraging me to impart that to my kiddos. I love the end of your post, btw- such a process!

shortmama said...

That was such a thoughtful thing for her to do. My oldest is like that, always wanting to make something for a classmate or her teacher, her sister or me and the hubs. She feels such pride just from a simple thank you that she is told when she passes on her gift. I admit I have gotten lazy with my thank you cards, quick hello cards or letters...a great reminder to start it up again.

tori said...

This is one area where I wish I had done a better job as a mom. I know it's not too late but it's definately a battle that I could have made easier had I adressed it earlier.

Ruby Red Slippers said...

You are doing a good job-You saw it, and you are reflecting it to your children...
I think the number one way to teach "thoughtfulness" is to show them faith in God-Our naturanl instinct is not to be thoughtful, and it is a quality we all have to develop...
I love this post-
My Grannie was one of the most thoughtful women I have known-Her faith was great, her love was deep-and I want to be like her...

Theta Mom said...

I think we all need a little reminder about this and you are a great example of that! Kudos to you for making an awesome effort! :)

SPEAKING FROM THE CRIB said...

how could your kids NOT be thoughtful with you as their mom?

awwwwwwwwwwww

MiMi said...

This is a great post. That kind of stuff, like your princess making the card, that's the beginning of a very thoughtful human being you've created. Very lovely.

JennyMac said...

I love this...and yes, it is a process. But thoughtfulness is taught (and reinforced) at home. Our son has better manners than some 10 year old we know...and that comes from us...which came from our parents.

Bravo for you to recognize the importance of setting examples. I wish everyone did!

Gabrielle Krake said...

That's awesome. I have four kids and it's usually me making them do the thank you cards, but i know that someday it will pay off. :)

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