Last month, my husband and I were fortunate enough to piggy-back on a volunteer-run trip to Mexico. We’re lucky that we live in San Diego; getting over the boarder is not difficult for us. For a years I’ve wanted to take my three children to Tijuana, for a number of reasons.
I can’t blame my kids for not truly understanding “how good we have it” in the United States. They have not seen, up until last month, poverty like that in a third-world country. We work really hard at instilling the lesson of gratitude, but sometimes you can’t expect kids to truly understand what gratitude means when they haven’t any real comparison. It’s a hard lesson for some adults even.
Nonetheless, we all rode a bus to our work sight for the day. There, we worked hard building a house, side-by-side with some of the locals. My kids, ages 9, 12 and 14, never once complained but were quick to take in their surroundings. No words had to transpire for us to see what they were learning. Still, I couldn’t resist the Mom urge, “Well guys, what did you learn today? Feeling pretty grateful for where we live?” My son, the oldest, responded in a way that stopped me in my tracks. He said, “Mom, you’re always telling us how fortunate we are, how good we have it, but when you say that, it just makes us feel badly. We feel guilty, like we’re doing something wrong.” My daughters, listening to the conversation, nodded their heads silently in agreement. My son continued, “Can’t you just let us get the lesson without telling it to us all the time?”
Wow, great point and duly noted. I guess my lesson was not telling them the lesson. If you’re a speaker, don’t tell the audience the lesson, if you’re a writer, don’t tell your reader the lesson, and as parents, don’t always tell your kids the lesson. That’s my lesson.