Featured on the Hong Kong Economic Journal (July 26, 2018)
Two weeks ago, I had one of the happiest days of my life. My son was eating crackers at my learning centre and as two year olds do, he left crumbs everywhere. We had to clean up and I used the vacuum cleaner to clean the floor as it was too big for him to hold. Just as I turned it off, he looks up at me and says ‘thank you mummy’. I know it doesn’t sound like much but I melted right there and then. It was the first time he had said an unsolicited thank you (bear in mind, he had only recently learnt how to say ‘thank you’!) and addressed the person. My response was immediate “you’re welcome sweetheart and thank you for having such good manners in saying thank you”. I spent the rest of the day beaming.
I often do a heart check and ask myself what makes me happiest or proudest as a parent. As a toddler now, he’s soaking things up and learning new things every day. And it’s easy to be proud of him for finally learning the colours or remembering the names of instruments I’ve taught him. Or being able to walk on a balance beam on his own or being able to know many words. But for me, nothing makes me happier as when he shows gratitude to others, not just me but to everyone around him.
I recently overheard him saying to his nanny “thank you Yaya (how he calls his nanny) cooking me” upon receiving his meal which I’m pretty sure meant “thank you for cooking for me” as opposed to cooking him. Or when he got off the Uber and said to the driver “thank you driving me”. It’s these unsolicited responses of gratitude that make me happiest as a parent.
And I as I celebrate the joy of ‘reaping gratitude’ now, I think about how best to first ‘sow gratitude’.