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Hearing Thank You

12 Days of Thanksgiving: DAY NINE

“Thank you Mommy for saying these things.”

I don’t think I’ve ever really thought much about hearing “thank you,” and the impact it can have — the lessons it can teach. If you’ve read much in the EyeJunkie archives, you know that my children have taught me many lessons. My 5yo, Bug, is no exception and his lessons have their own brand of sweetness because he is so very passionate about his little life and everything in it.

I can’t believe I just typed 5yo, but it’s inexplicably true. Bug turns five today. He always has a place in each year’s 12 days of Thanksgiving series because he was born just two days before the holiday. He is responsible for one of my most powerful Thanksgiving memories because I brought him home on Thanksgiving Day. Definitely gratitude worthy! And he continues to provide those opportunities.

It was Bug who said the “thank you” that stopped me this time. It was just a normal evening for me. The bedtime routine was in full swing, and I had reached the point in the process when it was Bug’s turn. Bug is a man of routine, and his involves me spreading his blankets in his special way, reading a book, rubbing his back, singing a song and various answers to questions. I’m ashamed to admit that sometimes I do it mindlessly.

All too often I forget, but I do try to send their minds and hearts off to sleep with some reminders of just how special they are. Truths like “you’re so smart,” or “I love you more than you know,” or “you make me smile.” For something so profound, it’s funny how I can breeze by the words just as mindlessly as the rest of routine sometimes. On this night, I kissed Bug’s cheek and off-handedly mumbled “I’m so proud of you.”

Uh uh. With Bug, you don’t get by that easy. You don’t get by with simple flattery. He lives in specifics and usually demands them. And, true to form, on this night he did. He immediately asked me why. Why was I proud of him?

Now, it’s not hard for me to answer that question. I AM proud of Bug, and there are many daily reasons why. I think what surprised me was his desire to hear all those reasons and his boldness to ask for it. It had honestly not occurred to me be more specific. So, I told him. All the little success I could think of. The ones that are small in the course of the life I know he’ll have, but big in the scope of the moments he’s aware of now. And, when I was finished, he said thank you.

“Thank you Mommy for telling me these things.”

Bug rolled over and closed his eyes for sleep, apparently content with the answers he got. And he left me, once again, completely pondering what just happened. Amazed at how much I had to learn from that simple “thank you.” And from “these things.”

Pride is a powerful thing. It fulfills our desire — our need — to be seen. To know our efforts have been noticed and commended moves us. It pushes us closer to good habits, to the confidence required to accomplish more, to that resting place in our own minds where we know we’re doing a good job. Bug’s “thank you, Mommy” reminded me again how important it is to communicate these things. In specific. In real terms and descriptions they can understand and hold easily in their own hearts.

Bug’s request for specifics and his “thank you” showed me how very valuable and needed the reminders are for his heart. For all our hearts. How our hearts awaken when we hear “I’m proud of you.” How we want to know more. How we treasure that affirmation of our efforts and our good work. In specific. How it motivates us toward bigger and better things.

Today I’m grateful for that little sleepy, heart-felt “thank you,” the privilege to hear it and the encouragement to let each of them know how uniquely special they are.

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