Are you counting days until the end of school? Before you start prepping for that end-of-the-year party, let’s pause and think about gratitude for a moment. Now would be a great time to express thanks to people who made a positive impact on your child this year.
Your child’s teacher is a good person to start with. A sincere handwritten note is a rare treasure, but email certainly conveys your sentiments.
In our children’s lives, I can count several individuals who brought out the best in them. I’m particularly partial to a choir teacher who taught both daughters all through middle school. In the past, I tended to write her a quick thank you note after a performance. (Yes, I emailed!)
Without fail, she would send a glowing reply that left me feeling wonderful. She remains one of our family’s all-time favorites.
Teachers aren’t the only ones who work with our children. Try to remember those who work quietly in the background and are easily overlooked. Think of the classroom assistant, the janitor, the librarian, the lunch lady etc.
You don’t have to do something for every single person, but you could do something for someone and make that person’s day.
One of my buddies baked Christmas cookies and took them to the lunch ladies at her children’s elementary school as way of showing appreciation. To say they were pleasantly surprised is a vast understatement. I think it’s safe to say that they were a group of ladies who had performed a thankless duty for a long time and really appreciated the gesture.
Another person who comes to mind as an incredibly helpful person is the secretary at my children’s elementary school. I still remember the first phone call I received from her when Edison was in second grade. My heart leaped into my throat when she said she was calling on behalf of the school.
“Oh shoot! What did Edison do??” was my immediate reactionary thought.
She must have anticipated that thought pattern, because her next words were “I want you to know first thing that your child is NOT in trouble.” Then she went on to explain about an awards program that was conducted every semester to recognize children by giving awards for. categories like “most improved” or “best citizen” or “best science student.” Parents were always invited, and it was a fantastic program.
If gratitude doesn’t bubble up naturally inside you, consider this: Kindness given has a way of finding its way back to you and your family. Lesley had a fourth grade teacher who moved to sixth grade when she did and was her homeroom and math teacher. Olivia had a fourth grade teacher who later became her assistant principal. In both cases, I was grateful that we had already established a good relationship.
Another point to consider is that people with grateful hearts benefit physically. According to a study by McCullough and Emmons,* grateful individuals sleep better, exercise more and overall are healthier.
So who will you thank this week?
*Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 84: 377-89.