How to teach appreciation? I am at a loss, by times…
Second-Youngest Daughter came home from school today and mentioned, in an off-hand way, that she had shared her lunch with one of the boys in her Grade 3 class who had only had a bag of Cheesies stashed away inside his lunchbag. When Husband inquired for further information, she filled him in on the rest of the story. It appears that this particular boy packs his own lunch in the mornings. And as he had woken up later than usual on this Monday morning, he scrambled at the last minute to put together a decent lunch. All he could come up with at the last minute was a half-eaten bag of Cheesies that had been there in his lunch bag since Friday. So that was what he packed for himself to eat for lunch.
This story is a banner child in support of the school breakfast program, if I might say so myself. It is also a case for mild neglect- although we don’t know the rest of the story. One can only guess. And it is certainly a case for much needed nutrition education, both for parents and children.
But even more compelling than this heart-breaking story of Cheesies for lunch is the flip side to the coin. Our own children within the four walls of our home have never had to feel the pain of an empty stomach. Youngest Daughter showed up this morning in my class complaining of being hungry. I asked if she had eaten her breakfast, as Husband is the one who feeds everyone for the first meal of the day, and she replied that “no” she hadn’t had anything to eat. Being her teacher and her parent, I was shocked, embarrassed and a wee bit curious how our youngest had been overlooked for breakfast. So, I asked her again if she truly had not eaten breakfast this morning.
To which she replied sadly, “I had no breakfast.” Awk! Embarrassing!
I honestly felt like a neglectful mother at this point, even though it was not “my bad”. (And I also was feeling a wee bit annoyed at Husband- because it certainly was “his bad”.) But, we carried on and she had her snacks at 10:00 a.m. and all was well. When I got home this evening, I (nicely) asked Husband why she had not eaten any breakfast this morning. He said that she had indeed eaten breakfast- she had a bowl of Cheerios. To which statement Youngest responded, “Well, it was not a very big bowl!”
How to teach appreciation? When others have so little. So little in the way of parental support, financial resources, time. So little in the way of proper information, education and understanding. So little in the way of tender, loving care, amongst so many other missing things, both great and small.
One must never take for granted the gift it is to have food on the table, a roof over the head, clean drinking water, a warm bed on which to rest at day’s end. These are assumed basic needs. And they are blessings for those of us fortunate enough to have in our possession when so many do not share this great wealth. So this is what I think. Teaching appreciation must be done bit by bit, little by little, conversation by conversation. Imparting the wealth of gratitude one utterance at a time. One gift at a time. Sharing a lunch is appreciating its value. For to truly understand the riches of wealth, one must understand the grace that is Gratitude.
For gratitude and appreciation are blessings all of their own.