I’ve a pile of laundry sitting next to me that I should be folding but I keep getting distracted by what my little guy has done. This post is begging to be written down, if only to preserve this moment for his future.
I started noticing it a few months ago. We were walking into doctor’s appointment and he noticed a landscaper weeding a flower bed. “What’s he doing, Mommy?” he asked. “He’s making it look pretty.” I responded. “I have to say ‘Thank you’.” He quickly ran over and thanked the shocked worker for helping to make things pretty. Later that day we were walking into the mall and he spotted a custodian cleaning one of the directories.
“Wait, Mom. I have to say, ‘Thank you’.” and he quickly ran over and said. “Thank you for cleaning up the messes.” a few minutes later he spotted a security guard and ran up to him saying “Thank you for being a helper!” I was very pleased with him but not really sure what was going on or where he had learned this. While I try to make sure he says “Thank you” at home when someone serves him I’ve never pointed out all the sometimes invisible people who serve us in public.
When I mentioned it to my husband he quietly said “Honey, I do that.” Suddenly it all clicked. He’s right. My husband is an extremely wonderful about thanking people. In restaurants he calls the manager over to thank them for their service (even if we only received mediocre service) he says they hear enough complaints that a simple “Thank you.” can make their night. He always thanks the custodian and security guards at his office and inquires about their families. He stops and thanks police officers for their service. He always remembers the administrative assistants birthdays, even though no one else does; and he always thanks them with a small gift or card if they assist him on a project. As a former nearly invisible admin, I know just how huge that can be.
No wonder my little guy has been saying “I want to be like Daddy.” He is a pretty terrific guy. Apparently, the things daddy thought no one noticed were being observed and mimicked by his oldest son. So I just smiled and allowed him to run up to the policemen on security duty at the church nursery and thank them for helping. Then a couple weeks ago he elevated his thankfulness with an action that nearly made me burst with pride.
We had been at the park playing and it was HOT. We had decided that it was time to head home and have a rare treat of ice cream. When we pulled into our development we noticed the lawn crew was there working quite hard in the blistering South Florida summer heat. My little two-year-old sweetheart wanted to do something for them so he went into the freezer and pulled out a box of novelty ice cream cones we had bought with a coupon at our local warehouse store. The box was nearly big enough for him to climb into but he drug it out onto the front lawn and them pulled ice cream cones out of it and walked up to each gentleman on the crew and offered them an ice cream cone. It was an extremely cute scene and I was a very proud mama.
Today was lawn day again. When we got home from dropping Daddy off we saw the lawn trucks pulling in to start another day of hard work in the summer heat. As soon as he got out of the car my little guy ran in and filled the bottom shelf of our freezer with water & Gatorade bottles. Then when he heard the lawn equipment in front of our house he filled a little basket with the last of the ice cream cones, water and Gatorade and carried it out. There was only one person in front of our house at the time so he started walking around the complex offering every worker he could find a drink and ice cream. It took several trips back to our house for refills because he could only carry a few at a time but he was determined that ever worker should be offered ice cream and a drink. I followed behind with his little brother and kept an eye on him but this was his project and he was so delighted to do it. An I just watched as hard working men got smiles on their faces, tears in their eyes and bend down to hug a little boy who had just touched their heart by saying thank you in a tangible way.
What really got me thinking was when one of the workers stopped me and said. “Of all the work we do, you guys are the only ones who ever say ‘Thank you’.” WOW! There are so many people who live in our complex and none of them say “Thank you.”? And what about all the other complexes that they manage? How many hundreds of people do they serve every day who never say “Thank you.”? But then, how many times have I neglected to say “Thank you.”? How many times have I been so wrapped up in my own world that the people around me who are serving me have been completely invisible? I’ve started taking a lesson from my two-year-old and I’m looking out for someone I can thank for their invisible service. Will you?
I’ve also decided that encouraging this attitude of gratitude in my boys is well worth the cost of keeping my freezer stocked with a box of ice cream novelties and plenty of water and Gatorade in the pantry. We emptied out our stock today but when we returned home from our last trip he called his daddy and asked if he would take him back to the warehouse store tomorrow to get more ice cream and drinks for next time the workers are here. A pretty proud daddy had no problem agreeing with that!