We started a new encouragement system for the elder of the menchildren this week. We are encouraging him to be positive and to do good things. Every time he does, we put a stone in a jar. When the jar gets filled up, we get to do a “special activity.” (I used the words “special activity” when I told the Manchild about it, and somehow he turned that into “go to a pizza place.” I have no idea how “special activity” and “pizza place” became connected in his mind, but I think it may be something that comes pre-loaded into every American child’s brain because I know I didn’t put it there.) The system has been good for the boy. He is learning to ask for things instead of demand them. He is learning to not whine so much. He is learning to get dressed by himself without being asked. It has been good for me, too. I am learning to look for the positive things he does. I am learning to not focus on the things that bother me. I am learning to praise his good behavior. And it’s helping me to do the same in my own life. Sort of.
Because I am looking for the positive, I now say things like, “It’s really good that I forgot to get that $20 cash back from when we bought milk today, because if I’d remembered, we wouldn’t have gotten to walk back to the old neighborhood (again). Or see how important it is to the store to verify the honesty of its customers. Or witness how gracious New Yorkers can be when they have to wait in a long line to check out their groceries.” And, “It’s great to know that 5 quarters will buy the same amount of time in the dryers at this laundromat as in the old laundromat, but not the same amount of dryness. I’ll have to remember to bring 7 quarters next time.” And, “You know, with the way things go some days, it’s amazing I don’t end up in tears more often.” See? Positive thinking at its finest!
Truly, though. It has been a good day. Not because everything went well, or even because I’m able to laugh about how things did go, but because . . . I don’t really know. It’s Friday? I get to go out with friends tonight? Or maybe simply because I’m doing what I need to do despite the obstacles that come up. There’s something to be said about that rush, no matter how small it may be, that comes with doing something hard. Even if it is as simple as standing silently and patiently with two ansty, hungry children while the store manager counts the change in the till.