Monday, September 12, 2011

The Ungrateful Brat Earns His Halo

   "Thank you for buying me these fruit snacks, Mom.  You picked them because they are my favorite didn't you?"  

   "Thanks for fixing me a drink."

   "Can I have some popcorn?  Thank you, Mommy."

   All of these phrases came out of Sawyer's mouth this afternoon, and he meant them. He meant them with all of his heart. He is very thankful for things.  He notices little gifts and acts of kindness.  He hasn't always been this way.....and may not always stay this way, but for now.....I am thankful for his gratitude.

   Last year, about this time of year, I had HAD IT with Sawyer.  I am talking "the end of my rope" with him.  He absolutely could not be pleased.  No matter what he was given, it didn't seem to be enough.  If he had a bowl of ice-cream, there was too little in the bowl.  He had a bike, but his friend had a four-wheeler.  He had some money, but his brother had more.  He complained to his class that he had never been to the County Fair, despite the fact that we had just gotten home from Yellowstone.  He was always wanting more, more, more.  Nothing was enough.  How in the world did we raise a child like this?  What did we do wrong? 

    Then, one day in his second grade class, it was reported to me that Sawyer had gotten upset about a t-shirt.  The school had offered t-shirts to buy, as they do several times a year for different occasions.  I did not order Sawyer a t-shirt.  He had a TON of t-shirts already.  When the shirts were passed out, and Sawyer didn't get one, he pouted up and said, "I never get ANYTHING!"

   That was it.  The camel's back was broken.

  The afternoon that followed that school day was a memorable one.  I didn't say a word about it until we got home.  I asked Sawyer about the t-shirt incident and he pouted up with me, complaining that he had told me he wanted a shirt!  I told him to meet me in his bedroom, that we had a job to do.  I brought boxes and totes to his room with me.  I explained calmly how his Daddy and I give everything we have to him and his brothers.  And how bad it hurt my feelings that he didn't like what we gave him.  ----Insert half an hour of dramatic conversation about being grateful for what you have.----  I then explained that since he didn't like the things that we gave him, that he would have to pack them all up.

   I was very serious.  For the next hour, Sawyer tearfully packed up his room.  He packed his beloved trophies, his favorite under armour clothes, his atheltic pants, his jerseys, his stuffed animals, his posters, trinkets, shoes, all of it.  I let him keep his bed, blanket, pillow,underwear, socks, 2 pair of jeans, 2 dressy polo shirts, and a pair of shoes.  The entire contents of his room were removed.  He was heartbroken.  He was devastated.  He was surprised. He was horrified, since among the things packed up was his soccer uniform.  He had a game the next day.  His brothers watched with amazement that I would do something so drastic.

   He was told that he would have to earn it back, piece by piece.  He could get it back by showing thankfulness... kindness....gratitude.  He went to bed a sad little boy.  I went to bed wondering. "What have I done?"

  The next morning at school was suppose to be "Team Day".  He dressed himself in one of his pairs of jeans, a black polo, and dress shoes.  The rest of his friends came to school in their soccer uniforms.    Anyone who is familiar with Sawyer knows that jeans and a dress shirt is not on his list of chosen outfits. 

   We stopped that morning on our way to school at a fast food place to get breakfast.  This is not something we commonly do.  The ride to school was quiet.  When we pulled in the parking lot and got out, Sawyer wrapped his arms around me and said, "Thanks, Mom, for buying me breakfast."

   I wasn't sure yet at that point whether or not the "thank you" was genuine.  It didn't really matter.  It was a change already.  He said thank you again 2 more times that day.  It was enough to earn him 3 items from his boxed up things.  That afternoon he was given his shin guards, his soccer jersey, and his cleats.  He was thrilled to have them.  Ecstatic.  Without them, he knew he would have to miss his game.

    The next day he showed gratitude a couple more times. He was rewarded with his stuffed animal that he slept with and a favorite shirt. He held onto that little stuffed buffalo like it was the greatest thing he had ever seen. He literally hugged the shirt. I am not exaggerating. Each day got better and better. He continued to earn the contents of his room back. Slowly, but surely, his attitude changed. With each piece that found its' rightful place back in his room, we saw a sunnier Sawyer.

(His room today, with all of his things back in their place.)  

   It took weeks, maybe even months for him to get it all back.  But the whole thing changed him.  It is perhaps one of my greatest moments as a Mom.  Or perhaps my worst for ever letting him get so spoiled to begin with.  Either way, I am so thankful today that I hear his angelic voice say, "Thank you, Mom" again and again and mean it. 


Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing! This is a great story!

Anonymous said...

Keesha Watts...I did not want to be anonymous. Lol I read this to Daniel today.

Tiliah said...

great idea, I would never have thought to do that. You are a great mom!

Stephanie Adams said...

I enjoyed reading this, Jennifer! I especially LOVE having Sawyer in my class this year! He is SO respectful, kind, generous, & helpful! There is never a time he does not say yes ma'am, no ma'am, or thank you! In this day & time that is very uncommon, as you know being a teacher. I would definitely love to have more students like Sawyer & more parents like you! Thanks for posting!