No, I’m not referring to that thought you had while co-mingling with your family recently.
Instead, I’m going to tell you a little story about how I used Thanksgiving as a punishment, just to keep that spirit of gratitude flowing all year long. 😉
Just for the record, I did not threaten to make any child stick their hands in a raw turkey hole and pull out his business. This story happened a while ago, actually. Long before Thanksgiving, and long before I wondered if slimy poultry could, indeed, be as effective as an episode of “Scared Straight”. (Hey, I like to think outside the box.) It was a different “creative parenting moment”, and it went a little something like this:
Three kids. Two dogs. One husband. And, a really long day. I was done being nice. I was ready to start swinging. Apparently, I wasn’t the only one. Two, Blonde Bad Moods and a Red-headed Whiner were tagging along, under my feet at every turn like small animals. An extended afternoon of fighting, bickering, complaining, and running late for stupid reasons like, “I can’t find my shoes!” (Never mind you JUST wore them TO and FROM the store, and took them off somewhere in the last 5 minutes! SOOOO, they can’t be that damn far! Of course, pardon my French, but I mentioned I was ready to swing at this point, right? And, I didn’t say this part out loud. I was just thinking it really loud.)
Yes, this particular afternoon had knocked me off my spiritual center like a rodeo clown taking one for the team.
Now, I know I have the power to set the energetic mood for my kids. Knowing this I must take some measure of responsibility. It’s my job to set the frequency. However, their negative energy had gotten to me, made me negative and short tempered, too. I could feel it happening to me. I knew I had to get it back…the control…my spiritual center. But, I was teetering on a fence to be honest. Hanging by an emotional thread here.
Then one of the children behaving like a small animal buckled me at the knees.
Needless to say, the fall landed me on the “other” side of the fence. The impact of my ass on the kitchen floor instantly connected me with my infamous Cave-Mom persona. (This woman uses a very primitive, guttural voice, and my children aren’t sure whether to laugh hysterically or run for their lives when she emerges. They usually just freeze like deer in headlights.)
“GET IN HERE! EVERYONE! SIT DOWN AT THE TABLE!”
They had no idea what was about to come their way.
Neither did I.
I was winging it.
Even though I was raging mad I could still feel the faint desire to be a good mom and teach a loving, compassionate lesson. I went with most obvious compromise. Deliver a solid attitude-adjustment in Cave-Mom voice.
I gave them all pencil and paper.
“DO NOT GET UP UNTIL YOU FILL THIS PAPER WITH EVERYTHING YOU ARE GRATEFUL FOR!”
They stared blankly at me for more instruction. One of the Blonde Bad Moods shrugged his shoulders.
I stared him down.
Nothing like a writer giving her kids a writing assignment to teach them a thing or two. I also knew this would take a bit. Perfect to give Cave-Mom some much needed time to cool her jets and retreat to her cave. Win-win.
“Mom, we’re done,” I heard about fifteen minutes later. “And, we are very sorry.” (The oldest speaks for the group.)
“I’m sorry, too, for being so angry. Being in a bad mood is no fun. And, when everyone is in a bad mood, it’s totally sucks,doesn’t it? What did you guys learn from what you wrote?”
“I learned I have a pretty good life and I should think about that more often.” (A+, as usual, Kid. Man, you’re easy.)
“I learned that you do a lot for me and I really love you, Mommy.” (Hmm, are you just saying what you think I want to hear?…Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth, Emily. Take it. Plus, you’re tired.)
“Eh, I learned that, uh, I’m glad I have food.” (This, from the Shrugger. This attitude has been his current MO for whatever reason. He’s having some trouble digging in…Cut him some slack. And, remember, you’re tired; maybe you want to conserve some energy for the dinner you are about to make him.)
He continues, “Well, I guess I’m glad you make it for me all the time and I don’t have to eat crap food.” (Okay, better…Wait, did he just read my mind?)
“Alright, everyone is going to read their list out loud, then we are moving on. Deal?”
“But, before you all read your lists, I want each of you to know that I love you. And, I can do a better job of staying patient and kind when you need help releasing a bad mood. This time I let myself get grumpy, too. I’m working on that.” (I tend to share this way with my kids. They seem to appreciate that I am human and growing, too.)
Then we read lists and we moved on. Happier. With more perspective. With more consciousness and gratitude. This was not a drill, people. This was a real world situation. We grabbed Thanksgiving by the short-fries on this hot summer day and brought these ideals into our present moment. Something we should do everyday. Thanksgiving or not.
Of course, I saved these special lists, knowing that one day I would stumble upon them while cleaning out a drawer, (which happened) and I would sob like a kid myself when I read their reflections of innocence and gratitude (which also happened).
Count your blessings everyday, everyone. The whole planet will drastically change when we all operate from a state of gratitude.