Since she’s been old enough to register her surroundings the Tornado has been curious about my vision & gratitude boards.
Her questions began as simple ones (What this is?) and have recently grown more specific in nature (Who is this? Why is he on here? Do I know him?!).
Although we’ve always stressed the importance of gratitude it’s pretty much only taken the form of before bed prayers.
The concept would come up sometimes during our days, but for the most part we were nighttime-grateful Peeps.
Not necessarily a bad thing–but she made it clear she was ready for more.
And a harebrained plan was born by this not-too-crafty* mama: it would be a wonderful learning experience for her to create a gratitude board of her own.
A learning experience for her.
It was I who received the bulk of the educating.
Allow me to
spare you the messy process share with you the 6 things I learned.
- Mama needed to let go of the cutting. Literally & figuratively. I painstakingly trimmed photos of friends & family for my gratitude board. It bothered the Tornado not at all to carelessly snip at a picture of her Bubbie, whack off half her head, & plop it on her board. I had to repeatedly remind myself it was a gratitude board not a voodoo doll and if that’s what the Tornado wanted hanging in her room—it was fine. More importantly she did it all! by! her! self! & I stayed out of the process.
- We are grateful for different people in her life. I’m a pretty mellow mom. I like to give the Tornado as many choices as I can throughout her day so she feels empowered. It surprised me, in this instance, I wanted to take over & seize control. I found myself longing to say REALLY? You’re grateful enough for X to put her on your board? or suggest Dont you think we need to find a picture of Y? He’s so good to you! I had to stop, step back, and view this as an opportunity to learn who’s important to *her.* And, through doing so, I gained insight into her world.
- It’s OK if her 5 year old definition of gratitude differs from mine at 42. This sounds like a no-brainer, yet the realization surprised me. Especially when we moved from photos to magazines. I’d see a picture of a house and anticipate she’d cut it out & proclaim gratitude for our home. The Tornado? She’d spy an image of a flip-flop and
hackcut that out instead (“I’m grateful my mama wears flip-flops!”). Again this typically *not* controlling mom fought the urge to point her toward what *I* thought she should be grateful for. Again, as with the photos, this activity was more a learning experience for me.
- The Tornado grasped the difference between gratitude & entitlement. Yes, this was all on a five year old level. Sure we’ve had a few, uh, challenges with entitlement even after creating the board. I was still surprised she expressed gratitude for items/experiences I’d have assumed she’d thought she was owed or entitled to. Providing her with the opportunity to show & share this with me was invaluable. I give her lots of credit and yet, I learned, still less than she’s due.
- Gratitude begets gratitude. Every time I glance at my gratitude board (it’s covered with photos, pictures, swatches of fabric etc**) Im reminded how blessed I am. Whether this sight/feeling link is as concrete with the Tornado Im not yet certain. I do know, however, having a visual (& silent) reminder created by *her* of how fortunate she is hasn’t hurt. She sees how fortunate she is without my constant prattling on about how lucky we are. As with fitness (practicing what we preach so we dont have to preach!) silence goes a long way.
- Gratitude fosters happiness. Ive still not decided if I think optimists are born or created. What is clear is happy, optimistic people focus on all that is good/positive in their lives & unhappy people tend to focus on the negative. I’m not claiming the creation of her vision board has produced an always cheerful, glass-half-full Tornado—but it has prompted her to focus on gratitude throughout her day. Im willing to do whatever I can to make this shift a lasting change/mindset.
So there you have it. The six things I learned during a process where I’d thought I would do all the teaching.
Will you join us in creating a gratitude board for yourself or with a little person?
Do you already have a board and care to share a link/YOUR tips in the comments?
*That’s ‘arts &’ not ‘as in sneaky or wily.’ Poor sentence structure.
**Here is the link to my Vision Board/Gratitude Board video in case you, like the Tornado, are curious.