Recently, I picked up a couple small, leather-bound blank books at Target thinking I’d introduce the concept of journaling to my kids. I thought I’d ask them to write down five things they are grateful for every night before they went to bed. At the time, I believe the words going through my head as I tossed the books into my cart were more along the lines of maybe I can get the ungrateful, egotistical little buggers to appreciate some-god-damned-thing in their lives. But, now that a couple days have gone past, I can put a more genteel spin on it and tell myself, Self, isn’t it a lovely thought? I’ve found a way to help them ease into slumberland thinking about all the wonderful things in their lives.
They were both excited by the books. My 9-year-old son took to it right away. He didn’t want to make it about being grateful, though, he wanted to write about his life so that his children could understand what he had to live through. Yes, those were his words: what I had to live through. It’s a tough world for him. One of the examples he gives is that the world has yet to be completely Wi-Fi connected. He’s sure his progeny will never have to suffer taking their I-touches along for a car ride and not have Internet connection all the way to their destinations. The poor thing suffers, he truly does.
Tonight as I went in to kiss him good night, he was busy drawing something in his book. I asked him if he made his gratitude list and was pleased to learn he had. He even read it to me: 1. Legos. 2. Tacos. 3. Me. 4. Mommy. 5. Daddy. I’m happy to have made the cut, but 4th place after Legos and tacos? He didn’t even touch his Legos today and I was the one who made the Tacos. But I guess I sound ungrateful, and God knows I don’t want to complain, so I’ll let it slide.
My daughter is a year younger and sees the world through a different lens. I’m not sure what color the glass is, yet. But it’s different all right. She’s a bit prone to the dramatic and lives as if everything is a cue for stage improvisation. Her list of gratitudes tonight included (and do read these in your best Academy Awards acceptance-speech voice): 1. My wonderful, supportive father. 2. My mother who cooks so much for me. 3. My brother who loves me dearly. 4. I go to an incredible school. 5. I have good books to read. I get the feeling she believes someone will one day read her journal, believe every word of it, then offer her the crown jewels, because really, who else deserves them? Because let me tell you, her father was out of town today, so she didn’t even see him. She bitched, moaned and belly-ached so much about the tacos I cooked for dinner that I nearly made her eat in the laundry room so that I wouldn’t have to hear it any more. She fought non-stop with her brother, came off the bus telling me she really wished it was summer vacation all ready and getting her to read a book alone is harder than training a catfish to use a straw.
To be completely fair, now that I’ve given a screening of what, really, should be the private musings of my brood, here’s something of my own that I found tonight in a journal from about seven years ago: Crazy thing–watching Teletubbies right now. 4 fucked up beings who love and accept each other openly and unconditionally. I totally understand why adults hate this show. It really makes us parents look like pathetic losers. I guess I wasn’t into logging things I am grateful for back then.