31 days of gratitude, grumpy edition (day 1)

I’ve decided to make a run at a December 2019 full of gratitudes.  Everyone is doing gratitude and has been for years, so I need to make a real commitment to it.  Why? Because I want to fit in and follow social rules.  That’s what we teach our kids — fit in, go with the flow, follow social rules — so I need to model it myself.  I think I’ve said something like this several times on my blog, but maybe this time I can really do it.

This is a challenge, but I will rise to it.  Day 1.  Here we go.

Today, with her express permission, I am grateful for my friend Patti and her son Benji.  Last weekend, Benji came over for a while.  When I dropped him off, my kids started snickering as I pulled into his driveway. I eventually saw why, as I walked up to the front door:

Screen Shot 2019-12-02 at 9.56.29 AM.png

Yes, that is her door cover for the holidays.

(**No I don’t have express permission to reprint this image here, but it was on Patti’s door.  I’ve never bothered to understand the vagaries of copyright law.  I hope I don’t get sued.  In the meantime here’s a link so you can purchase this door cover on amazon if you want.)

When Patti opened the door, I sighed deeply and gave her a big hug.  I told her, in so many words: any time I observe an adult other than me being entertained by poop humor, I am thankful — because in that moment I know I’m not alone.

But Poopy Santa isn’t my only reason for being thankful for Patti and Benji.  Dare I say it (at risk of provoking argument): I’m not that shallow.

Last winter, when Jesse began weekly therapy in earnest for anorexia, the regular time slot her therapist was able to give us was on Saturday mornings.  For a few sessions, we brought Nick along.

It was not ideal.  Both Anthony and I needed to be with Jesse at the sessions, but it was really hard for Nick to sit in session, and even harder for him to sit alone out in the waiting room playing on his iPad and wallowing in stranger anxiety.  There was much fidgeting and much disruption, along with the occasional erudite interjection that stopped all the adults in our tracks.  Nick has a way of cutting to the heart of important things, when he isn’t bouncing off  the walls.

I don’t remember how it happened, but soon after we began this schedule, Patti offered to let us drop Nick off at her home every Saturday morning. It was hard to say yes.  I felt like we were imposing mightily, and I felt terrible for abandoning Nick.  Patti is a single mom and a high school teacher and a doting mom, which means that during the school year her life is insane! But she insisted that Saturday mornings were fine.

I stepped back and reminded myself that Nick loves a playdate with Benji; that I would offer the same; that there’s no shame in needing my village; and that the gift of being needed is almost as important as the gift of having a need met.  So I said yes.

Nearly a year later, Nick and Benji continue to have as many Saturday morning playdates as we can manage.  Jesse’s sessions have moved to every other week, so on off weeks we try to have Benji over to our house.  There are many thank you’s going on in all directions.

I am grateful for so many things about Patti and Benji.  They accept my family with all its foibles and quirks. Patti has a belly laugh that fills my cup every time I hear it.  Benji has a silly imagination that sits just right with Nick and me. Patti and Benji are both generous and funny, and they’ve given us a steady trickle of love and acceptance in a year when we really needed it.

But I’ll be honest, Patti:  you had me forever at poopy Santa.


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