I sometimes forget that the simplest things can bring us joy. Here in England it has been a rainy, dull, locked down September and October. A brief pause for half term offered the opportunity to reflect on how things had been now back at school. Reconnect with my children. Rest in readiness for NaNoWriMo (which I am trying for the first time ever! Wish me luck!).
Dodging rain showers, we ventured into some nearby woods. The glorious autumn colours have largely been obscured by the grey weather so I was desperate to get out and stomp amongst some fallen leaves. Inevitably, my children found the largest puddle they could and – along with some friends we bumped into amongst the trees – dared each other to squelch through it. Competition for who could get their welly boot stuck first was fierce, but, amazingly all emerged unscathed and complete with both footwear!
Having satisfied appetites with bacon butties and coffee, we duly fist bumped goodbye to our friends and made for warmth at home. What happened next took me a little by surprise.
My daughter, never a keen writer, spent the next morning furtively locked in her bedroom, refusing all visitors. She insisted all was well, but that she was ‘working on something.’ An hour later, I was presented with a parcel, wrapped in Christmas paper with silver trees on it. I confess, it’s not often my children go to such lengths to make something for me, unguided by parental input.
Within the parcel was a selection of goodies – a second hand scarf (to keep me warm), a cuddly toy (which we had made together earlier in the half term), and a hand drawn picture. Now, I make no apologies for my daughter’s writing – the fact that she chose to write anything at all is simply a marvel to me at the best of times, such is her usual reluctance. But I was wow’ed by what she had written.
She explained to me that she had woken up feeling something, and felt the urge to make a present for me to express how she felt. Now, every parent has those touching moments when little ‘treasures’ are given freely and with love to express a child’s feelings at the time. I’m sharing one of those moments with you all because it was inspired not, as I usually focus on, a book, but by being around nature. Drizzly, muddy, glorious nature. Who’da thunk it?
This little moment, unprompted, gave me cause to consider. I have spent a fair amount of time myself being grateful for our blessings, especially recently. I appreciate the safety of home, the loving family I have, and that even during these challenges I am fortunate enough to try and use these times to try and spread some kindness where I can. Explore creative avenues I perhaps otherwise wouldn’t have. But I realise – having never directly discussed gratitude with my children except to point out how lucky they are to have all of the above – I perhaps should have. Somehow my 7 year old still knew to be grateful for what we have and to thank those responsible.
If you would like to discuss gratitude with your children, there are any number of resources on the internet. I plan to try and practise gratitude more often with our children, in the hopes that they continue to see the small blessings which we have even in the darkest of days. More than ever, get outside and be grateful we can!
Some resources you might like:
This page has a huge amount of information on it about the psychological benefits of practising gratitude, and resources to help. https://positivepsychology.com/gratitude-tree-kids/