By Gail Quistorff
“I’m thankful for ketchup,” my 6-year-old piped up from the back seat, “because it’s good.”
“I’m thankful for your car seat,” I replied, “because it helps keep you safe.”
“I’m thankful for my fingers,” was his next answer, “um, because. . .,” he thought for a minute. “Because then I can squeeze the ketchup out!”
What sounded like a strange conversation was music to my ears. My second son Dawson; whom my husband and I privately nicknamed Eeyore, was actually becoming happier the longer we played the game.
Dawson was a typical little boy; he loved dinosaurs, following his big brother around, and messing up his little sisters’ Barbie doll hair. One constant struggle with him was his “Eeyore” syndrome.
He’d be having a great time one minute, but when asked if he was having fun, the answer would be, “no, not really,” followed by a huge Eeyorish sigh. “I wish we could stay longer” or,”I didn’t even get to play that long.” It wasn’t so bad at first but slowly it became worse and began to drive my husband and I crazy.
Brad and I had no idea what to do. We went from doing the mad and angry parent act, to sitting and coaxing him into a better mood. We had no idea where it came from. Brad and I were not pessimistic people. On the contrary, I don’t know if Brad could ever be serious! I sometimes teased him that I had 5 children instead of 4.
I couldn’t stand the thought that one of my children was so despondent. And I wasn’t so sure how much longer I could perform the “Put on a Happy Face” song without pulling my hair out.
After Dawson ’s 6th Birthday party was one such time for him. We had a great but parent-exhausting day, taking the boys to a snow tubing hill. We spent more time making sure they didn’t get plowed over by other sledders then anything else. After taking the last boy home, it was just Dawson and I in the van. Gritting my teeth, I asked him the dreaded question. “So did you have a good time?” His Eeyorish sigh prickled my skin from my toes to my neck, I couldn’t stand it anymore! Counting to 10 and taking deep breaths, I suddenly came up with a plan to punish him for being so unhappy with everything. My evil Mom laugh was close to the surface.
I turned and told Dawson I wanted him to come up with 5 things that he was thankful for and why. He blinked his green eyes at me. His whining, “Why?” didn’t even effect me. I was going to stick this one out for the whole 30 minute ride home if it killed me.
“I’ll start.” I volunteered. “I’m thankful for the sun because it helps my flowers grow.” I sat and waited. Finally Dawson said he was thankful for his hair because it was on his head.”
I took it. We went back and forth one more time and then Dawson decided he’d had enough.
“Oh, so I won then?” I asked, knowing he would hate the thought of losing. I waited for a response. I wasn’t disappointed. Dawson thought of one more thing to be thankful for, and reached his number 5 limit. Whew! We made it.
Dawson had begun to get a tiny bit happier with each answer, of course the sillier they got, the more fun he had. Then he asked me, “Mom, can this be just our game to play forever?” The evil Mom laugh in my head turned into one of those “Awwww’s” like when you see a baby animal. Of course this could be our game. Dawson and I played the rest of the way home and whenever he would turn into Eeyore on me we would play “The Thankful Game” again. Pretty soon all we saw of Eeyore was his tail, disappearing into the horizon.
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