It is unacceptable to just take and never be grateful to people for the role they play in your life- for feeding you, helping you, loving you. Gratitude is something everyone takes for granted and for me this is unacceptable, a lack of gratitude, for if we are not grateful, how do we then celebrate?
In the last week of January 2019 you started saying ‘Thank You’: ‘Tantyou’.
I am slowly seeing all the first few communications wither away as you acclimate to a grown up way of communicating. Speaking. I know that I should be happy, and it’s still cute, but I really don’t want to forget what you looked like clapping your hands to say thank you. I don’t even know if I have enough videos to remind me. I pray I do, I pray I stay fully focused on your development enough to write about it so that you know your journey and I remember it.
You began clapping your hands to say thank you when you were about 8 months old, if I remember correctly. I will have to check, and there was no turning back from there. These basic thank you’s made my whole life, I tell you. I did not know where you learnt it because no one around you clapped to say thank you. In Zimbabwean cultures, you clap your hands to say ‘Thank you’, it is seen as respectful and you never receive something from someone without respectfully saying thank you. This clapping is called ‘Kuombera’, and males and females clap differently, but also, clans and families have their own way of clapping that is unique to each family. One does not only clap to say ‘Thank you’, they clap to ask ‘How are you?’ as well. Respect. I will try harder to teach you to do this- I will admit already that your father is much better at this than I am. I always felt odd doing it, and I may write about this later.
So. Now you have started to say ‘Tantyou’ and though it was slow at first, you would mix clapping with ‘Tantyou’ and sometimes clap more, and other times speak more, now, all you do is say ‘Tantyou’. You do not clap anymore. My little baby is my little girl. I had a small moment last week when I was sitting on your play mat with you and passing you blocks, and with every block I handed you, you responded with a ‘Tantyou, mommy’. I was so happy to hear it that nothing else mattered in that moment. I cannot express my own gratitude that you deem it important to say ‘Tantyou’, and here is why:
We teach kids that it is important to say ‘Thank you’ in such a manner that they believe that if they say ‘Please’ and ‘Thank you’, that they will get what they want. Though it works in socializing our children to become decent human beings, this is not true for me. For me it is more important that you learn to feel ‘Thank you’, not just to say it so, that you understand what it really means. To thank someone is to share gratitude for them, with them. When someone hands you something, this is not to say that you are unable to reach for it yourself and get it, this is to say that there is still enough community within your relationship with that person to allow for you to help one another. When someone does your hair and you thank them, or they do their job well and you thank them, it is a sign that you share enough between you to help each other out. Compassion, empathy, sympathy, positivity, all these feelings preceded or accompany gratitude- and I never want you to forget it, Amari.
Gratitude is an important part of love, in my own opinion, and once you fully understand gratitude, you will understand love. Once you understand both you will live a life of celebration- and what’s better than that? The first step is indeed in saying the words, but the most important step that changes everything is in feeling the word.
So Mambo D, thank you so much for choosing me. Thank you for being the sunshine that you are in our lives. Thank you for sharing your smile and laughter with us all. Thank you for every single one of your kisses before we go to bed. Thank you for wrapping your arms around me and making us hug every time you do not want to change your diaper. Thank you for being so strong as an infant to get us to year one and continuing your journey with me by your side as your mom. Thank you for always being yourself, no matter what. Thank you for overcoming every fever and every cough and sniff. Thank you for running and jumping with us- on planes and ships, into cars and into different countries. Thank you for singing and dancing with your mommy. Thank you for every single breath you have taken, thank you for you, my little girl.
I love you,