When my daughter, Christina, was small I took her weekly to Suzuki violin lessons. After an intensive hour of tuning, fingering, bowing, ear training, phrasing and performing the musical pieces, the bow was loosened and the half-size violin securely closed into its case. Then the teacher, Mrs. Sloat, would pick up a cut-glass, covered candy dish in which she kept treats for her students. She held the dish in the air with one hand grasping the knob of the crystal lid. She bent close to the little pig-tailed girl, and her elderly face was a picture of captivating anticipation.
“What is the magic word?” she’d ask.
“Please,” said my daughter shyly but eagerly.
Then the lid was lifted off the candy dish and Christina was allowed to choose and take two pieces. But that wasn’t the end of the session yet. Mrs. Sloat held the lid in the air above the dish with another irresistible look of expectancy in her face.
Little Christina knew what was expected. So she said the other magic word: “Thank you.”
Then Mrs. Sloat replaced the glass lid with a soft musical clink and set the candy dish back upon the table, the weekly ceremony completed, and a child trained, motivated, and rewarded.
We teach our small children, from the time they can speak in syllables, to say “thank-you.” We’re pleased when teachers and others support us in that endeavor of encouraging politeness and gratitude in our children. Then, how rewarding it is when they begin to say thank-you all on their own. Magic words indeed!
When your child comes to you with nothing to gain, not asking for anything but expressing unsolicited, heartfelt appreciation, the reward is sweeter than candy to the fine-tuned parental heart.
My husband and I experienced this when our son and then our daughter went away to college. Our training was pretty much completed. Now it would be tested. And there was no guarantee that our children would heed or appreciate the upbringing they received. Doubts plucked at my parental heart: Did we prepare them well enough? Did we teach them all we should have? Will they leave home and embrace a different way?
After a few weeks of college dorm life and hearing about other students’ family situations, our son called home and said, “Mom, Dad, I’m so thankful for you both! I never realized before what good parents I have. Thank you for all you’ve done for me. And for who you are.”
Happy tears came to our eyes as we hung up the phone that day. Love is the reward of love. And hearing your grown children say, “Thank you,” is music to parents’ ears.
Be sure to say “Thank you” to – and for – your mother and father as you are giving thanks to God for all his blessings this Thanksgiving.
~ Catherine Lawton
What a great call! I can’t even imagine how good that must feel. Well, I hope that I can in about 10 years when my oldest will head to college.
Carol O'Casey said:
Well said. This put a smile in my heart and reminded me of how God must feel when we pick up the “prayer line” and express our gratitude to him. Happy Thanksgiving everyday!
Karen Mitchell said:
Your article really touched my heart. How grateful I am when I look at our children raising their children teaching them to be grateful. It is so important in this time we are living in. I know how it feels to see our children grateful for how they were raised.
Sherrill S. Cannon said:
As a former teacher and grandmother of ten, I really enjoyed this article and offer the following suggestion: In a society full of bullying and self-centered children, it is helpful to teach your children the benefits of consideration for others and being polite as early as possible. The Magic Word is a book emphasizing good manners, which can be read to toddlers. It is a rhyming story of a little girl who was rude, selfish and demanding – and had very few friends. Her mother suggested that she needed to improve her manners; so when she went to school the next day, she thought of her mother’s advice, “What is the magic word?” and she started saying “Please” and also “Thank You”. She tried to become more thoughtful of others, and discovered that she was a much happier person. The repetitive use of the phrase “What is the magic word?” has children answering “Please”, and teaches children that being polite and considerate of others helps to make friends. One of the important lines in the story is “If you want to make friends, you must be polite and treat them the way that you know you would like”. That’s what the Golden Rule is all about!
Reblogged this on Journeys To Mother Love.