A Valentine’s Lesson (on gratitude)

I bought small Valentine’s gifts for all three kids. A small Lego set for John. A Curious George DVD for David. A  board book for Ruth. And boxes of conversation Jelly Bellies for all three.

David took one look and had a melt-down. He was so sad that he didn’t also get a Lego set he just lost it. (I realize now it was stupid to get them different things but in my defense, I really thought he’d be excited about the DVD. He loves monkeys, loves Curious George and DVDs are a treat.)

John was thrilled, thanked me and ran into his room to open the Legos. When he was told that he had to wait to open it until later since we were about to start school he got a pouty, I’m about to cry but I know I shouldn’t look on his face. To his credit, he tried hard not to act upset but school was difficult. We had to do school at that moment as I had a doctors’ appointment later in the morning and was going to work in the afternoon. I knew he’d have the entire afternoon to play, it just happened to be a day I had to be more of a stickler about school coming first.

Ruth opened her Jelly Belly box (while I was in the other room calming David down) and greedily ate as many as she could before H. took away the box. She then had a melt-down. Note: Taking candy from a baby is NOT easy, despite the proverb.

At this point I was feeling more than a tad bit frustrated. One gift had been rejected and the other two were causing more trouble than they were worth. I was thinking things along the lines of “That’s the last time I’m buying special holiday gifts for these ungrateful kids.” I was feeling sorry for myself. Sort of a poor-little-me, I just wanted to have a nice Valentine’s day train of thought.

Then as I was holding David and comforting him another thought popped into my head.

How many times to do I look at one gift I’ve been given by God and complain that it isn’t a different one? This house, pretty nice. But the ones in the neighborhood across the street? Amazing. Good job, sure. But what about the people I know who don’t have to work at all or on the other hand, those friends who have careers that are more successful? Health and a strong body, all well and good, but why can’t I look like that friend of mine with the great body and no gray hair?

How many times do I want the gift NOW on my time and be patient for God’s timing?

How many times do I have something good but only want MORE?

I take the gifts I’m given every day and reject them. I look at what I have and say it’s not good enough. I say I can’t be patient and wait for something better. I say I won’t share.

So I swallowed all my frustration. I rocked David and told him that he was my monkey and that I loved him. I talked to him about being grateful and helped him to say thank you. I explained to John why he had to wait and told him I was proud of him for not getting really upset as I knew it was hard. I cleaned Ruth’s sticky hands and face.

And I thanked God for another lesson gently taught.



3 thoughts on “A Valentine’s Lesson (on gratitude)

  1. oh boy, that hit just a little too close to home. Even if I didn’t want to…I needed to hear that. I definitely fight with the “grass is greener over there” syndrome.

    • Me too, me too. It’s astonishing to me how often God uses my kids to show me the plank in my own eye. Parenting is sort of the ultimate vehicle for sanctification in my view.

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