Giving is better than receiving – correct. This is such nationally adopted second nature that John Lewis made it into a Christmas ad. But what about saying thank you? I’m a serial over thanker. I write thank you notes and cards for presents and other kind things that happen to me. I like doing it.
I think I’m in the minority to be an adult that does it, and a parent that thinks it’s pretty essential. Check out this Guardian piece and the comments. I imagine, as my own mum did, that lots of parents have attempted to enforce an evening of card writing on their kids with varying degrees of success. There are a lot of factors in play – grumpy teens, wriggly seven year olds, collective attention spans of a meerkat. I plan to do my best to keep encouraging Tibbs as she gets older, and if she doesn’t want to do it herself, I’ll probably do most of it for her and get her to do a signing session, or resort to forging her signature!
I see this as part of the kindness I want her to have and the manners I expect her to have. Does this make me old fashioned? Am I pushy and unrealistic? Should I accept she will, at best, send a text message instead? I don’t want her to grow up to be the sort that can’t put pen to paper and express gratitude. As you can tell, I’m taking the thank you card conundrum waaaay too seriously! Or am I? Please is already a very established word in her 21month old vocabulary, but thank you always has to be coaxed out, as an afterthought.
If you’re thinking of making your own thank you cards with a toddler, here’s how we did it:
- I bought a pack of blank cards, for about £2.00
- I gaffer taped a large plain sheet of drawing paper to our kitchen table, and put several blobs of washable paint on some trays
- I gowned her up and sat her at the table, where she happily slapped and slurped the paint onto the paper and pushed it around with her fingers
- Once there was a nice spread of colours I gave her the blunt end of a child’s paintbrush and encouraged her to push it around the paint mess, making patterns
- We then took a card and placed it face down on the patterns, peeling it off. This produced prints, and every one was different. The bonus was the paint hand print on the back of the card where she patted them down, kind of like her signature!
I know children’s artwork isn’t everyone’s idea of a great postal treat, making things for the people that had given her such lovely thoughtful Christmas presents was something we both enjoyed doing together. I hope to make it one of our traditions, rather than a chore. Let’s wait and see.