I learned a valuable lesson from my three-year-old granddaughter, Rosannah, the other day. My daughter, Alicia, was trying to fix my laptop and it was taking longer than suspected. Why this should be a surprise I don’t know. Do computer problems ever resolve quicker than you expect?
Anyway, rather than sit by my daughter’s side and watch all the technical messages, endless restarts and tapping of F-12 on the keyboard take hold, I decided to take Rosannah to the store. I had planned on taking her younger sister, Briannah, as well, but she was taking a nap. However, I was pleased that Rosannah cared enough about her sister to remind me to include her in our little excursion. The nap took precedence over the outing, but at least Rosannah was thinking of her younger sibling, which is more than I can say about my attitude about my siblings when I was her age.
I’m not going to go into details about what a ratfink I was as a child. If I ever become famous and my brothers and sisters want to write a “Sister Dearest” expose, I don’t want to encroach on their material. But let it be said I was not an ideal sibling. I irritated my oldest brother, Dennis; sold peaks at my older sister, Diane’s diary to her friend, Linda; talked my brother Terry into several misadventures and I forced my little sister, Tina, to recite my attributes based on current lyrics from Hubcap and the Wheels songs. I would sing, “Let’s really hear it for…” then Tina would pipe up, “Sally. She’s worth a million!”
I’ve never outgrown my enjoyment of conditioned-response praise. My daughters, Alicia and Brittany were trained to tell everyone I was 21, even when I was well into my 40s. Both of my grandkids will say “Grandma!” when I ask who is the greatest. Rosannah will exclaim “millions!” when asked how many books grandma is going to sell. I’m not sure how long I will be able to elicit these responses, but I’m going to go for it as long as I can – or until there is another generation of relatives I can persuade.
Anyway, Rosannah and I trotted off to the store. The little tyke, unlike her mother, loves to shop. We stopped at the vitamin store where this ole grandma purchased digestive enzymes. I know, I’m starting to sound like an old fart, but better to sound like an old fart than smell like one. So, in the best interest of my gut and the people around me, I take the digestive enzymes. Rosannah suggested I take the dinosaur vitamins like she takes. She seemed genuinely sad when I told her they didn’t make dinosaur vitamins for grownups. Sigh.
The toddler behaved like a champ, so I decided to make an unplanned trip to Target. I was hoping to find a reasonably priced piggy bank so the girls can learn how to save money. Rosannah has an old wallet of mine and sometimes I give her small change to carry. She likes holding this wallet and having her own money - even if it is only 12 cents and she usually loses it in minutes.
Rosannah was attracted to the Hello Kitty shirts, but I pointed out how the best place to shop is the clearance rack that is a little off the beaten track. Rosannah quickly found a floral-print dress. It is not a style I would ever pick, but she seemed convinced that it would be the perfect addition to her wardrobe. I pointed out a stripped t-shirt that was only $2.86. Rosannah said that the shirt would be a fine gift for Briannah, but the dress was definitely a good choice for her. She didn’t whine or carry on. She just seemed so sure of herself that I had to concede. Besides, the dress was only $5.99 and it DID look cute on her.
We went to check out and Rosannah was going to show the cashier her money. When she opened it, her wallet was empty. No doubt the 12 cents was lost in the parking lot. The cashier joked that his wallet looked that way too. Grandma used her credit card, made her $8 purchase and the cashier gave Rosannah a sticker for being such a good girl. After the prompted “thank you” Rosannah asked for another sticker for her sister. The cashier (and the shoppers in the line behind us) were impressed that a little tyke would be so considerate of her little sister.
Whether it is a sticker, a t-shirt, or going on a trip with grandma to the store, I was impressed how my little granddaughter is so quick to think of the needs of someone else. She doesn’t put the needs of others before her (a big problem with a lot of women I know) but she does consider the merits of considering the needs of others.
In my book, Erase Negativity and Embrace the Magic Within, there is one chapter on developing compassion and several chapters on how we need to learn how to erase the abuse we direct at ourselves. The average person has 40,000 to 65,000 thoughts a day and a whopping 95% of those thoughts are negative. We may not be able to control others (although we will keep trying to do it anyway) but we CAN control ourselves.
So in conclusion, let’s try to be generous toward ourselves and others. A kind word, a smile and a compassionate act can go a long way toward paving a happier future for ourselves and others. Do it today and you’ll find you’ll feel like a million, even if you don’t have a penny in your wallet.