Teaching Gratefulness

Years ago, my son was coming upon his seventh birthday.  He had been pointing out a Cars movie camera for over three months every time we were in a specific store with great anticipation that I would buy it for him at each moment of adoration.  He was beginning to show a desire for photography and for taking pictures.  I would have loved to have bought this camera for him on each occasion, but knowing his birthday was coming up, I chose to wait and let him long for it a bit to catch the true reality of receiving something anticipated.

As I entered the store one week before his birthday I was giddy.  Not only could I afford to get him this present but it was going to be a home run.  It was exactly the present he had been wishing for and I was going to see that face of excitement that every parent loves to see.  The face that says, "you know me so well mom", "you listened to my desires mom" and "you did good mom!" 

The morning of his birthday arrived and I could hardly contain my excitement for him to open the long anticipated gift. I did the normal routine of getting him out of bed and ready for school.  I had made his favorite breakfast which was looked over and almost expected and but it didn't phase me much because soon would come the moment he and I had been waiting for.  His "perfect" gift!  We sat on the couch and I was probably more excited for him to open the present than he was but he looked eager nonetheless.  Off came the bow.  Awesome!  Then off came the card.  Here we go! As he peeled off the wrapping paper to my utter shock he looked at the camera box, tossed it aside onto the floor and said, "That wasn't the one I wanted."  HORROR came over my emotions and I'm sure my face.

The present I had long awaited for him to receive was tossed aside and disregarded as something of no worth to him.  I didn't really know how to react, but in that moment I had to make a choice of what my reaction would be.  I cannot claim an amazing story of grace and mercy unfortunately because my initial response was out of hurt.  I expressed my dissatisfaction with the way he accepted his gift and decided that back to the store that camera would go.  All the way to school I expressed my shocked surprise at his ungratefulness.

In parenting you try to prepare yourself for the accidental spill reaction, the unclean room reaction and even the anger that may come your way due to a steadfast love and firmness in discipline.  Never in my wildest dreams did I prepare myself for the ungrateful attitude from a gift he had been desiring for over a month.

I spent the entire day at work feeling convicted for the way in which I reacted to his ungratefulness.  Especially since he had spent his birthday at school feeling guilty for how he reacted and worried that I was extremely mad at him.  Not a great day for our household for sure, that is until we were face-to-face again to verbally talk about everything with much milder emotions.

After school I wrapped him up in my arms and we talked about how his reaction made me feel and how my reaction could have been better.  He apologized for his part in the scenario and we both went to the store and returned his camera.  Although we both felt better about the situation and he assured me there would not be a next time and there was a consequence that he learned that day. That birthday evening went celebrated as planned but without any gift. 

Gratefulness is definitely a quality that is taught and caught.  Anytime I see behavior in my son, I take a look at my own behavior because maybe, just maybe he learned it from me.  In fact, more than likely that is a resounding yes.  So in that I stress that to teach gratefulness to our children, first we need to be sure we are acting grateful for all that is provided to us. 
                      Sing to the Lord with grateful praise; make music to our God on the harp.
                                                                       Psalm 147:7