Zero Gratitude

My poor swollen left ankle after walking around the state fair for four hours.

My poor swollen left ankle after walking around the state fair for four hours.

Do you ever feel like you missed the mark in teaching your kids to be grateful? Not only did we miss the bullseye, I’m pretty sure our teach-your-kids-gratitude arrow landed in another field. The field called self-centeredness.

How can I get my boys to be grateful? Grateful they have a nice home, food on their plates and clothes on their back? Grateful they have fun toys to play with, books to read and a television to watch?

I’m getting sick of the selfishness. No matter what I do it’s never enough these days.

Like last week. I spent two entire afternoons painting a Fenway Park-style green monster in their bedroom. My mom, sister-in-law, grandma and grandpa all came to help. I told the boys on the way home from school on the second day that it was almost finished.

“Did you put up the scoreboard? Did you hang up the logo?” replied my oldest son.

No. I hadn’t had time. Or energy. But he couldn’t understand that. He wasn’t impressed that we painted his entire room, all he could think about was what we didn’t do.

Then a couple days later my husband and I spent nearly seven hours painting our deck. (I never, ever will paint the stupid deck again.) After crawling around on my hands and knees, 8 months pregnant, I finally come inside to take a break and call it quits for the night.

“Mom, I can see at least three spots that you missed,” one of my sons remarked while looking outside our kitchen window and staring at the deck.

Really? Do you think my swollen, tired body wants to know you noticed my job was incomplete?

This last one was the kicker for me.

We took the boys to the Utah State Fair on Monday night. I wasn’t going to miss the annual ice cream festival. We got there at about 5:30 p.m. and headed straight to the Department of Wildlife Resources fishing pond so each of the little guys could catch a fish.

We waited in line for almost an hour.

They caught their fish, we walked around looking at all the animals then we headed to the ice cream tent. I enjoyed nine scoops. (It was the best part of the entire night.)

Then my sister took them on the giant yellow slide and we walked to see more animals. By 9:15 I could no longer see my ankles and my stomach could no longer bear its weight.

I told my family we had to get going and that’s when it all broke down. All I heard about while limping and pushing up under my tummy for support on the way to the car was how I didn’t let my oldest see the giant pumpkins. And my second oldest didn’t get a peek at the giant 12-foot alligator from Florida.

Forget the fact that we just walked around for nearly four hours. Forget that we paid a bunch to get into the fair. Then we paid to get into the annual all-you-can-eat ice cream festival. Forget that they each got to eat as much ice cream as they wanted and then slide on a sack down a giant wavy slide.

Forget that they each got to catch their own fish. Forget that they got to meet up with their cousins and check out freaky-haired chickens and floppy-eared bunnies. And don’t even mention the giant white turkey they tried to scare to death.

Those things weren’t enough.

All they could think about were the things they didn’t get to see or do.

I hobbled my worn-out body home. I was deflated.

I know I taught them better. Their two-year-old brother thanks me regularly – especially for little things like opening his fruit snacks and changing his diapers.

What happened to the oldest two during the past few years?

I’ve got to come up with a plan to teach them to be more appreciative. I’m open to suggestions.

My mom said my siblings and I were the same way growing up. Maybe it’s a maturity thing. Maybe other kids act like this too. Maybe my boys are destined to be self-centered until they are older.

Whatever it is I’ve had enough. I can’t keep busting my butt trying to please them only to have them point out how I could have done more.

I’m too tired and too pregnant for that.

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