“What are you going to give me if I write it?” The rage of million distracted mothers wells up and I snarl, “What am I going to give you? You are writing a thank you note because you were already given something!”
I leave her to her folded bits of computer paper and the array of pencils she’ll use to painstakingly craft every letter in a different color. The mom I want to be admires her creativity and attention to detail. Generally, the mom I admit to be sees this artistic devotion as a stalling tactic.
We’re five weeks past Christmas and after rehearsing this scene a few times, all of the thank you notes are in the mailbox. Though I have lost track, I am reasonably certain that sending this round of cards will cancel the debt we have running from October. It seemed tacky to say “thanks for the 6th birthday gifts too!”, but I am hoping this transmission of gratitude covers all presents received in the last quarter of 2015.
But it’s family. They understand that manners (and a clean house and a recipe that includes all the essential ingredients) are something that Marisa strives for, but can’t always deliver on. My standard excuse would be “but I’m good at other things!” Heck, in 2016 I’ll be able to say “sorry I didn’t mail a note, but I celebrated your generosity in a story!”
But back to that flash of anger at what was actually an innocent question.
We have a child who believes “help” is a four letter word. She buries her nose in books and drawings and growls at anyone who dares interrupt her to request she lend a hand. I’ve explained to my husband that this is just history repeating itself, but that doesn’t make her behavior any less frustrating.
So we bought her a piggy bank and promised to arrange some sort of incentive plan for helping around the house. After all, we want her to develop a positive relationship with money, it seems important that she connect value with her efforts.
But clearly something hasn’t been communicated. As usual, I was busy being good at other things… like writing a story about how I felt about the whole affair.