Often I wish parented better. My parenting wishes frequently stand in direct conflict with each other, like I wish that I had enough money to buy X for my daughters but I also wish I never spent any money and we gave all our birthday gift funds to charity. Or I wish that I cooked more delicious and healthful foods and I wish that I never cooked at all because I’d trained my children to be responsible for all the cooking. Or whatever. The point is, my personal bar is high, which is why I frequently find myself limbo-ing under it instead of pole vaulting the damn thing.
Except, you know what? We are excellent at thank you notes.
I’m not saying that the thank you notes that my children write are really long and creative and detailed, but we have achieved the single most important thing about thank you notes.
We. Get. Them. Done.
And, if I’m honest here, that is all me.
It’s not like my children showed an early and natural aptitude for writing thank you notes. I can’t claim responsibility for J’s apparent trumpet prowess, but I get to claim their thank you-note-writing as my very own.
And Cute W is an excellent parent who is responsible for many of the better aspects of my girls’ personality: he models self-discipline, he takes apart machines so the girls can see how stuff works, and he is unfailingly polite. But when it comes to writing thank you notes, I am the engine of this family. It’s all me, baby.
And what I have created is absolutely splendid. At least it is for those of us who’ve trained themselves to see the splendor in ordinary things.
Because after Christmas I put a stack of cards, a couple of writing utensils, and a list on a table, and the girls saw it all and went to work. I mentioned the notes once, and before the sun set that day, with nary another nag, I had a bunch of polite, neatly-written notes. That’s nothing short of spectacular.
So, no: I haven’t conquered discarded socks, I can’t always keep my frustration with homework assignments to myself, and I am probably a little too eager to hear the gossip about the 8th grade dating scene.
But I have trained two individuals to swiftly and graciously thank their loved ones. Since before they could write words, I told them to draw thank you pictures, and it is such a regular and natural part of any holiday-related good fortune that no one whines or frets or complains anymore. They take it for granted that gratitude must be expressed in a gracious and timely manner. So, there. I’m contributing to humanity. I have made the world a better place.
Let’s celebrate me, people.