“What do you say?” Anyone who has raised young kids knows this prompting question. Someone tells your son how handsome he looks in his big boy suit. What do you say? A child shares a toy with your daughter while playing together. What do you say?
You know the answer you are trying to ingrain. It’s an answer that you hope stems from a larger attitude. In everything, in all circumstances, be grateful. Pay attention. Take note. Make your appreciation known. What do you say? THANK YOU.
I asked this question to my son, Max (8 at the time) one night at the end of dinner at David’s Burgers. The same nice young lady had waited on us from start to finish. She brought us 87 different servings of hot French fries. She brought our burgers (with more fries, of course). And most importantly, she brought a towering, chocolate and vanilla swirl soft serve cone to Max when the meal was over.
When it was time to leave she checked on us, and particularly Max, one more time. “What do you say,” I asked Max? He stepped in, gave her a hug, and then stepped back. He stepped back in, gave her another hug, stepped back out and said, “I love you.” That is not what she expected. That is not what I was prompting, though I wasn’t surprised. This wasn’t the first time he expressed the same thing to a stranger had shown kindness.
As much as we want to keep teaching him gratitude, I hope he keeps teaching us about love. Not the easier kind of love to people we are already close to, but the more challenging kind of love to strangers. Gratitude is good in all situations, but love is the “most excellent way.” Even when you take three pillars of what it means to be Christian—faith, hope, and love. The greatest, hands down, is love.