The gratitude game

As a mother I try really hard to instill the right values in my daughter.  It is an ongoing and conscious process that keeps evolving. One of those values I really want to instill in her is gratitude for all the blessing we have.  If you have seen the movie or read the book Pollyanna you should be familiar with the Glad Game.  Pollyanna would say why she were glad with the things she has even if it were not what she really wanted in the first place.  Now this is a lovely game to teach to children, but since my little one is still too young to recognize things like that on her own we play a different game.

For the last couple of nights after lights out and story time we start saying الحمد الله (Thank God) for all the things we are grateful for.  I start saying the things we did during the day and the things we have and the things we got.  Silly things, big things just anything I think she should be grateful for.  For example:  Thank God for the wonderful day we had, thank God we have wonderful friends at the nursery, thank God Lulu is healthy, thank God Mummy loves Lulu and Lulu loves Mummy,  and I keep going until she falls asleep.

Sometimes she just parrots what I saw and then sometimes she comes up with her own stuff like last night she said thank God for Kitty.  Kitty is her favorite Hello Kitty doll who gets dragged around all day and does everything with her.

The exercise is also good for me, because it helps me unwind even when the day has been tough.  I am reminded of all the wonderful blessings we have and that they are all gifts from God.  They are not rights but favors which are not always permanent but plenty.  I felt she had to learn to be thankful to the creator just as she is taught to say thank you to people around her.

What values do you try to instill in your children and how?  I would love to get more ideas.

The books choose you

I can across this article about how what you read shapes you, especially women.  Go ahead and read it then come back I can wait.  I remember reading so many different things as a child but I never really like romantic novels, they were just too mushy wushy for my taste.  I don’t remember being a tomboy or boyish, I was just different.  I clearly remember reading all of the Asterix and TinTin books I could find at the public library when we lived in Scotland.  Before that I remember going through the entire Ramona Quimby series.  After that I got interested in Nancy Drew books and the Hardy Boys too.  I read every single one I could find.  Then somehow I stumbled across the Evil prime minister series.  It is about an evil prime minister who hypnotizes the kids to do his bidding and has world domination plans.  That lead to trying to sneak into the adult section to read more about hypnosis, the lovely librarian told me it was too complicated a book (I was 10 at the time), but I have always had no doubts about my abilities so I begged to borrow it and she let me.  I didn’t understand a thing, but it did start a lifelong interest in all things related to the human brain.  Then the crafts books always interested me, Origami, Friendship bracelets, Macrame, and things like that.  Totally random things like how to solve a Rubik’s cube and how to learn YoYo tricks too made their way to my reading list.  The older I got the wider my range of books became.  I would sometimes read romantic novels but never with the fervor some women have towards them.  To me they were just like movies, entertainment but not too much value of them to me.  But I felt I should read them because everyone else was reading them and raved about them.  I went through a phase where I would read the books people recommended because I felt that I should fit in even in my reading.  I sometimes read poetry, which I love but can’t read too much of it.  My favorite kind of books is still a non fiction book that has lots of information that I can store in my brain.  Autobiographies and history books have also been added to my reading list.

So have these books shaped me, or was it the other way round? Was I born this way and chose the books because this is who I truly was?  I think the book chooses you because you attract the book.

When I do enjoy a romantic novel it is usually because the heroine is a strong woman who is the hero of her own destiny.  But if you really want to know what kind of fiction books I like, I still like things like Harry Potter where you can enter magical worlds where reality does not have to dictate the storyline.  Mythical creatures, magic potions and spells.  Things that make life less mundane and interesting.  Things that you can not compare to your real life and wish you had them, just a good gripping book that makes you happy while you read it.  I also love novels which are set in totally different places and eras than mine.  I read My name is Red a while back by Orhan Pamuk and felt totally immersed in the different culture of a totally different era.  I want to read a book that takes me into a new world and let me walk around and take it all in at my own pace.

And like the author of the article mentioned, the authors of these books usually deal with their own issues thru the characters in their books.  Sometimes it is healthy to relate to protagonists and sometimes it is just healthier to look for it elsewhere.  After all these characters live only in the confines of the pages of a single book or series of books, but we don’t.

Now that I am older and have less free time to read all the books I want to read I am even pickier.  If the book won’t make me happy or help me learn something new I just won’t read it.  When I was younger even if I hated a book I would still force myself to read it, now I guiltlessly put a book down and start a new one if I don’t feel I am getting what I want or expect from it.

Growing up I never had many friends so I made friends with my books.  It is sometimes thought that the nerdy kids don’t have friends because they lack in social skills, I would like to disagree.  Sometimes they just find that the books are more interesting and more accommodating and fulfilling to their needs.  Moving a couple of times through childhood it was hard to keep friends, but a book fits into your bag.

I have come full circle  my favorite books are the same as when I was 10,  I read for my own personal pleasure and my own personal growth.  I read because it satisfies a hunger and fills a need.  I read because at the end of the day I still haven’t settled down in a single place long enough to make life long friends but I can fit a friend in my bag.

I am still selecting books, but now I am picking out books for my little girl and perhaps my own character will lead me to specific book.  Books where girls are strong and can do anything.  Books with magnificent creatures and stories.  Books with values and morals I would like her to learn for a lifetime.  But I still accept the fact that eventually she will make her own choices and perhaps totally different books will choose her, but that’s ok, because I know that the right books will want to be her friend.