My son and I have a few bedtime rituals. Some come and go as his interests in different things wax and wane. For months he wanted to watch YouTube song videos on my phone; now he hardly mentions it. Recently he's begun asking me to make up stories.
Always, always, he wants to "talk a little bit."
Sometimes I ask him questions about his day during this time. If I'd been working that day, I may ask him what he did with his Nana. If we were together, I'd ask him what his favorite part of the day was.
Recently, as his cognitive abilities expand and he begins to spend more time in what could be called bona fide contemplation, we've begun to delve into more complex concepts.
The other day, I decided to explain to him the meaning of "grateful." From time to time I keep a gratitude journal, and that evening I'd been feeling particularly thankful. I want to instill this idea in him while he's young: the idea that it's good, meaningful practice to focus on the things in his life worthy of gratitude.
I told him that when you're grateful for something, you are happy about it. If it's a thing, you're glad you have it. If it's something you do, you're happy you get to do it.
The first night I asked him what he was grateful for, he said he was grateful for hugs, for giving hugs. (Yes!)
The second night, he said he was grateful "to have drinks of water."
I smiled out loud initially. But the following morning it occurred to me just how profound his choice was. I recalled the conversation and told him he was right to be grateful for water. I asked him whether or not he knew there were people--even kids!--in parts of this world who don't even have clean water to drink.
"They have dirty water?!" he asked.
I explained how they don't have water to wash their clothes or water plants. He said, "or to take a bath?!"
I admit freely that there are times in my life when I find it very difficult to focus on the positive. I worry about money, about the future, about Kalil's upbringing. I bemoan certain of my past life choices and find myself making fantastical wishes about things I think would make all or some of the worry go away.
And then something like the other night happens to put it all into perspective. My son gives thanks for one of life's most basic, most staple (and thereby precious, even in all its mundaness) offerings. And I am reminded that my life is more beautiful than I have ever been able to fully comprehend.
My son is alive. We are both in good health.
We have water to drink. Food to eat.
We have love.
It's very possible I will write a similarly themed, "revelatory" blog a hundred more times in my lifetime--the blog wherein I detail what happened that week to make me remember that life is good and that, in every moment, I have more to be thankful for than can be cancelled out by life's occasional struggles. The lesson will never be trite in my mind. The remembering will never be less crucial or well-timed. My desire to share it will never diminish.
I hope that all who are reading this have something profound--or profoundly mundane--to focus upon and be grateful for.
And by the way, Happy Valentine's Day. May you always be surrounded, swathed, silly in love.