Please read with this in mind. I write this from complete humility. From years of being ANGRY ANGRY ANGRY at my ungrateful kids. Sometimes even other people's ungrateful kids. I guess I just assumed they should have been born with gratitude. Not trained. Of course I taught them to say "Thank You" when other people gave them stuff. Everyone does that. But completely failed to train them gratitude for work done. This isn't "look at me and my grateful kids." Because we are still very much being trained on a daily basis. This is to young mommas and dads, please learn from my repeated mistake. Do better than I did for your own sanity!
I will never forget this moment. I was standing upstairs in my laundry room. It's conveniently located at the center of our upstairs bedrooms. (I say that only to help you understand the small tasking that I was asking of my kiddos.) I was washing, drying, and folding clothes for the six of us, one was an infant, and we also had a teeny-bopper guest that was staying with us at the time. That's laundry for 7 if your counting.
I called, "Girls! Come and get your clothes."
This time a little louder, "Giiiiirrrrrls! Come and get your clothes!"
More silence. How'd you guess?
By now I'm hollering. Have you noticed that I "holler" a lot? Please tell me you sometimes do too?
I went on to call for them and call for them to pick up the clothes that I had collected from every nook and cranny of the house. The closet floors. Under the beds. Behind the bathroom doors. You know all of the places! I'd washed them. Folded them all nice and neat. Got the clothes out of the dryer at just the right time so that they wouldn't shrink or fade. (I know. I know. Some of you ain't got no time for all of that!) I'm a little nutty about our laundry.
All I needed for these sweet babies to do was walk 8 feet to the laundry room, walk 8 feet back to their bedroom, and put the clothes away. Easy peasy, right?????
I suppose I eventually yelled loud enough to get their attention. They came. They collected. They looked at me with disgust. I'm pretty sure they were thinking....How dare you interrupt our play? Or how dare you interrupt our electronic time. Our T.V. time? whatever they were doing.
They moaned. They groaned. There could have been eyes rolled. And anger rose up in me. Oh my goodness. That anger where you think....I may just die of an overload of frustration.
How dare they? Why do they have to be so dang ungrateful!? So lazy! Bratty. How did we get kids with such bad attitudes about the simple task of putting away laundry? Work in general for that matter??? Seriously, it's not that hard. As steam rolled out of my ears for the millionth time over this same issue, it hit me.
Woman! You are smarter than this. You were a teacher. You know better. You have never trained these kids to show you gratitude for your work.
So after I calmed down, we had a little family meeting upstairs, right outside the laundry room.
The man and me and our crew. I told them about all the work that goes into the laundry. And then gave them the expectation.
When someone hands you a clean stack of laundry, this is what you say, "Thank you so much for washing and drying my clothes for me. I'll go and put them away."
And then we practiced. All the little kiddos got handed a stack of clothes and all the little kiddos had to look up at me and repeat the phrase."Thank you so much for washing my clothes for me. I'll go and put them away." May sound silly, and ridiculous, but it worked. Two years later, I'm still mostly getting that response. The oldest may just say, "Thanks Mom" and I'm totally cool with that!
And when they forgot, I remind them. Occasionally they grab the clothes and huff and puff, and I just take them back out of their sweet little hands (Do you hear that sarcasm) and say, "Thank you Momma for washing my clothes" and then they'll repeat, "thank you momma for washing my clothes." And everyone is happy.
Either way, I feel like they aren't taking me and my cleaning lady services for granted. And now they have even more responsibility with picking up their own laundry and delivering it to the laundry room. To help fold. To spray their own stains and to help put away. There is something about making them do the work themselves that instantly helps them appreciate the task.
All that written to say, it's not really just about me. I'm always thankful for clean laundry! It's about them and their hearts.
I don't want them to take anyone or anything for granted. Not their food. Their bodies. Their clothes. Not their teachers. Their coaches. The church volunteers. Family. Friends. Neighbors. We want to train them up to express gratitude to others not only because it the respectful thing to do for other people, but because every time we pause and say "Thank You" our own Joy increases. Their JOY in that moment increases when they stop and appreciate what's going on around them. Your Joy when you hear your kiddo thank their coach, teacher, doctor, dentist, lady or man at the Wal-Mart check out, nursery volunteer, etc. etc increases.
It's really a gift to your kids, yourself, and and everyone around them.
"Train up a child in the way he/she should go, and when they are old, they will not turn away from it." Proverbs 22:6