The other day, afg casually asked, “Do you think Minnie should go to preschool this winter?” “This winter?” I asked perplexed. How could he even consider enrolling our eldest daughter to preschool now of all times? I don’t know a whole lot about the process, but isn’t it supposed to be this rigorous, time consuming, nail biting endeavor requiring endless research and repeatedly staring at review after review till your eyes fall out of your skull to find the perfect preschool. At least, that was my impression of what the process was like. We hadn’t done one iota of it yet. How could he propose we just “put her” in any ole school or that there was one available?!
But what really surprised me wasn’t that my husband asked this question or suggesting the possibility that Minnie could be going to preschool in two months, it was that I couldn’t admit that I just wasn’t ready for her to go. I couldn’t believe it. All this time struggling with Minnie’s terrible two’s and here I was saddened at the mere thought of her leaving me for a few hours to go to school. I imagined the whole scenario in slow motion in my head. Releasing the lever of the car door, stepping out into the cold wintery air, watching my hands opening the car door for her car door, and unclasping the carseat latch across her chest, and lastly pushing the big red button that would release her into the world.
I realized I would miss her. I’d miss all the random lovingkindness she shows me throughout the day for no particular reason at all. “Do you know why I love you?” she asked innocently. Then without waiting for me to answer, she exclaimed, “Because!” It was reason enough for her. Another time, Minnie sat on the floor content playing like she normally does everyday, creating a building and its landscape with her Little People blocks. Midway through she looked up at me. She scooted her sitting two and a half year old body around to face me, stood up and rushed full speed into my arms to give me a hug. I don’t know why. Still another time, she picked up her stuffed Hello Kitty doll she had been playing with and asked me, “Who gave me this Hello Kitty?” I don’t know how many times she’s asked me that question about this toy or that toy, this particular food or treat, but I’d answer, sometimes annoyed to have to answer the question yet again, “Your Daddy and I did or Your Grandmother and Grandfather did or Your Po Po and Gung Gung did, going through all the gift givers in her life.” After hearing the answer she’d reply with such genuine enthusiasm, “Oh, thank you. Thank you. Thank you!” She gave the same reply even when it wasn’t me who gave her the object in question. Each time it was as if I’d given her the rarest most wonderful gift imaginable instead of, in this instance, a fifteen dollar plush toy found just about anywhere. Just today while I set Minnie in her booster chair for lunch, she asked, “Who made me this peanut butter sandwich?” I replied again like I always do, “I did.” “Thank you, Mommy. Thank you! I love it!” she said with a huge grin. It flowed so naturally for her. Anytime a thought of gratitude came to mind, she instantly said it unabashedly, without reason in that pure, unadulterated way of hers, she said, “Thanks.” It’s especially this way that she expresses her thanks that endears me to her. It’s, perhaps, one of the things I’ll miss most about her. There will be a few less hours where I’ll be reminded HOW to say thank you.
At it’s truest expression it can often feel vulnerable-to say thank you. It’s the acknowledgement that you received from another. I can’t help but think this is what Jesus desires of us, what my daughter, Minnie seems to be born understanding, what perhaps we were all born understanding, but somehow forgot due to the cynical armor we slowly picked up along the way and clothed ourselves in.
So as I contemplate Thanksgiving this year and try to live with gratitude, I’m going to, with Jesus’ help, take a cue from my daughter, take off the armor and thank Jesus with abandon in that childlike manner, starting here. “Thank you! Jesus, thank you so much! Thank you for my daughter Minnie for so many reasons. I love her. Thank you because she reminds me how much I have to be grateful for.”