At my son’s preschool, his classroom hosts a weekly show and tell. He loves it and is so excited when he learns of each week’s assignment, such as something that starts with “b” or a cone-shaped item. His creativity astounds my husband and me. We can usually help support his decisions unless they involve a large animal, like the time he wanted to bring in a live dinosaur, or the highly imaginative fire-rocket ship-water canon-super hero creation. Last week, the topic was “something that you are thankful for.”
As I explained the assignment to him, I was bracing myself for the barrage of items that were likely to be listed, like: a snowman-jet-ski-fire-truck or carrots (he’s really into carrots at the moment) or his dwindling leftover Halloween candy. His answer surprised me.
He said, “You. I’m thankful for you, Mom. So you can come to show and tell today!”
Cue the tears.
It was a deluge of tears and I had a hard time explaining why I was a blubbering mess.
I often wonder if I speak of thankfulness and gratitude in front of my son, or if I’m careless with my words, often worried and stressed about the adult things in life. Do I rattle on about my work load, things that aren’t going well, or the mess in the kitchen/bathroom/entire house instead of being thankful for a highly imaginative little boy? Does he hear me expressing my appreciation for my family who are supportive in more ways than I can count? Or am I complaining about the litany of to-dos and petty grievances?
The beauty, and often the true strain of parenthood, is this very crux. Displaying gratitude while also keeping your children safe, and trying not to lose it when the temper tantrums flair or the pages of their baby book are ripped to shreds. Showing your children how to react when you’re told “no,” when life is hard, when things go sideways and you’re consumed with emotions.
Perhaps I could use an adult version of show and tell so I can take the time to reflect on what’s truly important, and how I present that to the world, my family, my son, and our soon-to-be addition. A weekly tangible reminder of what you’re thankful for, not simple lip-service that tends to align with the upcoming holiday season. Perhaps many of those lessons from pre-school, in which teachers are cultivating such a foundational sense of the world, and emotional development for our children, should have an adult continuing education component.
What would be your object or story to tell about what you are thankful for? I know, with a little help from my son, that I have many items and stories to share, and just need a reminder that it’s not just during Thanksgiving when they should be told. From my family to yours, Happy Thanksgiving.
Maggie Doherty is the owner of Kalispell Brewing Company on Main Street.