This year, at Christmas time, I took Silas to a [thrift] store and tried to get him to pick out a present for Petra. He kept picking out things that he liked…for him (before anyone says it, YES BECAUSE HE IS THREE, I GET IT).
I had stashed away a present for him that I knew he would love–this huge Tigger rug. I picked it up (for free!) at an awesome swap. I probably wouldn’t have purchased it, but for zero dollars? Yes, please! Anyway, I labeled it “from Petra” and put it under the tree. He was super excited about it. I tried to describe to him the thought process someone might have gone through when picking that out for him. “Petra and I talked about how you love orange, right?”
“Oh, yes, it’s my favorite color!”
“And you like Tigger a lot, don’t you?”
“Yes, because Tigger is a Tiger!”
“Well, that’s what Petra and I were discussing when we decided that we should give you that rug for a present.”
Days later, he said, out of nowhere, “That was a very nice present that Petra gave me. She knew I would like it so much.” And then he went and hugged her and said, “Thank you, Petra.”
It was a tiny moment, but beginning to understand what other people do for you is the first step in gratitude, I think. It’s hard to teach.