So, there sits my 6-year old. All the toys in the world, every convenience at his fingertips, in a loving, safe home with lots of everything with a bunch of extra lots of everything on top. And he whines. And is incredibly and provokingly ungrateful. Goes trough what appears to be the pain of having his eyeballs pierced with a hot blade if asked to please put his own plate in the dishwasher. Seriously, he once started crying because he was so bored with having to wipe his own ass and I refused.

So after another evening of him being unreasonably needy for material things and other people to do stuff for him all the time, I exploded into a rather ugly tirade of which I fortunately only remember a few elements seen through a red-hazed tunnel sight. But they were in the categories of starving African children and Indian slum kids and how-would-you-like-to live off what you could find on the street and support your younger brother with what you could find in garbage cans or beg your way to and how would you like it if you didn’t have any parents like SO MANY children don’t because they are DEAD and your only joy would be to sniff glue under a bridge???!!! About the time I got to the glue-sniffing, Hubby intervened and quietly told me to calm down, whilst giving me the “Calm. The. Fuck. Down- look”…

I calmed the fuck down and thought about what I could do in order to install some sense of decency and gratitude into the monster I hope I’m not creating…

So with no further a-doo-doo, I present to you the Idea, That May Very Well Change Your Life.

I didn’t invent it, I can’t take credit. I did twist it a little bit though, to fit my special family needs. Lots of self-help people and anyone from the school of thought called “positive psychology”  mention this – hell, it’s been on Oprah. Ready? Here it is:

A Gratitude Journal.

Yeah, yeah, yeah, you’ve heard about it before but this one is DIFFERENT!

How we do it

So now: In our family, we sit down for dinner together every night and as the boys dig in, I open a small journal and write: Today I am grateful for: 1., 2. and 3. After writing my three things, I take notes as first the 6-year old tells us what good things he experienced/ noticed during his day, then on to Hubby and finally to the two year old, who usually says things like: “Dog”. Or “Airplane”. We don’t really know what that means, but we want to include him none the less.


1. Logbook. Sometimes I wonder what I did before I had kids. Or Hubby will ask: “What did we DO on the weekends?” We remember certain things (like sleeping in – ah, the memories… ) but not the daily flow. (Grind, if you will.) Now, I can go to any given date and look up what we did, because it also works like a kind of a logbook . See? So 10 years from now, I can look up what we used to do on the weekends, when the kids were small.

2. Focus. You see what you look for. If I succeed in guiding my kid’s focus on things to be grateful for – to be on the watch for the beauty in life – I shall consider it my greatest accomplishment.

3. Gratitude. For instance: My six year old once mentioned that he was happy that I had made him his favorite dish for dinner and I was really happy that he had noticed. So he praised me and then I praised him. Win-win!

4. Tabs. HOW many times have I gotten the answer: “Nothing” or “I don’t remember” to the question “What did you do today?” By everyone taking turns to mention three things that were nice about their day, I get to actually HEAR about his day. (Like the other day, he was really happy about making a new friend from school. A girl. They played and she was a lot of fun. He couldn’t remember her name though.)

5. It takes five minutes. Tops. It is NOT a big project. Well, I think it can be, in consequence. But it isn’t in effort. Promise.

I invite you to try it. Don’t make it into a big thing, just do it for the fun of it. If you miss a day, that’s fine. In our house, the 6-year old is the Lord of Remembering the Journal, a position he takes very seriously, so we do it most nights.

I also use the same journal to write down the funny things my kids say and do.

That journal is going to be worth a fortune in sentimental value someday.


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6 Responses to An Idea That Can Change Your Life. No, Really.

  1. Wabbit says:

    I take it the 6 year-old became Lord of Remembering the Journal AFTER the explosive-see-red-tirade? 😉

    I recall similar tirades in my own youth. I also recall action, wherein tirades were followed by a rather large box being dragged into the Offending Child’s bedroom and pissed-off parent subsequently divesting the OC of all their fun worldly possessions. This was usually cemented by a statement to the effect of, “now you have a reason to whine/complain.”

    After a week or so of the OC’s internal review, and a fair amount of groveling, the OC was allowed grace to demonstrate sufficient gratitude through intensive labor and thus allowed to slowly earn the return of the confiscated possessions.

    I wonder if a journal would have made the difference in our household. I doubt it, but only because my parents didn’t have the time, energy, or patience required to teach such lessons.

    As an adult, I’ve been experimenting with the gratitude journal online. I really like how it can keep one focused and cue you into a higher level of appreciation.

    Then again, any excuse to jabber for me. 😉 Good luck and keep us posted on the impact of The Journal.

  2. I love this idea! It sounds like it would make a wonderful memory book–not just what you did, but what was important to you or what touched you at different points.

  3. christina says:

    Brilliant writing, I think so many parents in the materially privileged part of the world can relate to this situation!
    We do almost the same as you do with the gratitude journal; every evening at bedtime, we take turns talking about at least 3 good things/events which happened today. But writing it down in a journal, well that takes it one step further, will try that, thanx!

    • Cindafuckingrella says:

      Hello lilleven,
      Thank you for your kind words. Actually, we’ve improved on it a bit since I wrote that. Now, when ever we have company we invite them to join us. It is like a guest book – of sorts. And when the kids went for a sleep over at their grandparents, they brought the book and everyone wrote in it. It had evolved into quite a thing. I’m loving it more and more. Imagine 10 years from now – it will have my mother’s handwriting saying she was grateful for playing an awesome round of golf, grateful for the two-year old letting her know he had to poop and for the fun they had when they visited a farm and stepped in real cow dung.And having people over, they think it is sort of a strange thing but quickly see the appeal. It is kind of a thing to make a round and have everyone say what they are grateful for. (I make sure to invite people – not that they HAVE to do it!)
      I wish you the best of luck with it!
      Keep reading!

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