Lesson from Braden

Although only 7 years old, my oldest grandson can teach older and wiser(?) folks a lesson or two about gratitude.

I love little Olivia Jayne. She’s so little and fresh and pure. Her beautiful blue eyes just “pop,” and her chubby little cheeks invite kisses galore. She’s the youngest of my grandchildren. Braden’s the oldest, and I sure love that little fellow too. It seems unreal that seven years have passed since he was Olivia’s age and size.

Every time I see Braden, he surprises me with some new behavior or change. It might be that his hair is getting darker and thicker, or then again, it might be that his body is getting longer and leaner. At other times, it’s his actual behavior and personality development that delight me. Here’s an example. This past week, I heard him say several times, “you should be grateful….” whenever someone complained about something. For instance, when his mother was fussing about changing a particularly malodorous diaper of Colton’s, Braden said, “You should be thankful that you have a baby.” Carrie kind of chuckled and said, “You’re right.”

When I  remarked on Braden’s attitude, his mom said that she didn’t know whether he was just naturally that way or whether her persistent reminders about gratitude had finally taken root. Braden is just like other children (and adults) in that he wants things, and when he gets them, then he wants something else. Aren’t you like that? You might think that if only you had an iPad, you’d be happy. Or maybe if you had a Kindle with a Kate Spade cover, you’d be in heaven. Or if you could just have a new car, a steak, a new house, an exciting job, or a chic outfit, you’d be content. But would you? Not for long.

What I think is that being happy is related more to our attitudes than to our possessions. I used to drive a certain friend of mine crazy whenever I’d say, “It could be worse,” and she’d always remind me that it could be a lot better too. She was right, but then, why go on and on and on about how dire things are when you either can’t or won’t change them (at least not right away)? Another friend once asked me if my nickname was Pollyanna as a child because of my irritating (?) tendency to look for the silver lining. But honestly, of what benefit is it to whine and wail about our misfortunes? Okay, complain once or twice, but then either do something about it or keep it to yourself.

Or here’s a better idea. Follow Braden’s example and try to find some redeeming quality in every situation. When I see him again, I’m going to treat him to a big serving of ice cream. He loves the stuff! And even it’s not completely to his liking, he’ll probably eat it anyway and inform me that there are children in the world who’ve never even tasted the stuff. Yep, that’s my grandson! We don’t look alike, but we sure think alike on this issue.

In case anyone is wondering, YES, I struggle with this issue everyday. At the same time, if you have the audacity to complain about how much higher your taxes are on your lake house than your town house, don’t expect any sympathy from me. When someone mentioned that to me yesterday, I immediately got an image of a man I glimpsed from the window of a tour bus in New York City recently. It was about 35 degrees, and he was propped up against a building with his head down, brown paper bag beside him. Jeanita, Connie, Linda, Tilara, Mary, and I had all complained about the frigid temps that day, and we had coats, hats, gloves, and warm beds to sleep in that night.  The contrast between his plight and ours was stark.

 Lake house taxes, huh?


Author: jayne bowers

*married with children, stepchildren, grandchildren, in-laws, ex-laws, and a host of other family members and fabulous friends *semi-retired psychology instructor at two community colleges *writer

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