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