When Please and Thank You Become a Lesson in Shared Humanity

From potty training to people training, kids cause us to think through all the whys of what we do.


Tonight, as we left our favorite local pizza joint - me with a baby and a pizza in my hands and my boy carrying all of the accoutrements - someone was kind enough to hold the door for us. Because it means the world to a mom with her hands full, I thanked him and my son walked on through without a word.

I gently reminded him that if he feels grateful when someone holds the door for him, he can say thank you. He responded, “I just forgot.”

“It’s ok, we all forget sometimes.” And I went on to explain to him that we don’t say “thank you” because we’re supposed to or because it’s the polite thing to do. We say thank you to show our gratitude. We say thank you because holding the door for someone and offering a thanks in response is a simple exchange at the intersection of our shared humanity.

That guy who held the door for us - I don’t know how he voted or what he believes or if he’s pro-this or anti-that. None of that mattered in the moment. What I do know is that he saw someone who needed a little help and he stepped in. I also know that I felt grateful for the help. As Brenè Brown would say, “that’s what is true between us.”

The Lost Art of Sitting Still

The kids are back in school. And for me, that means I have relinquished responsibility for two thirds of my charges for approximately 6.8 hours per day. Not that I'm counting. 

The combo of summer break and three kids gave me a run for my money. I kept my head above water but just barely, as I described here. But suddenly, my daughter started sleeping through the night which happened to coincide with the start of the school year, and I feel like a new woman. I can breathe.

So, during my first week of freedom, err the boys being back in school, I decided to take advantage of a chunk of time between clients and go sit by a lake. And by sit, I mean only sit. Typically, if I take the time to sit by a lake I am also doing something else like eating or reading or sending emails or scrolling Facebook. Because let's face it, my life is one long massive string of multitasking moments. 

But I decided I would see if I could just sit. Still. For five minutes. When do I ever do that anymore? Never. I mean, when sitting down to a meal by myself which is rare in and of itself, I am usually also doing something on my phone. When I watch tv, I'm folding clothes, ordering clothes, or online attending to some details in my tinies' lives. Even when I pray, I'm usually also showering, running, driving etc... Multitasking. Always. So, there, on the park bench I just sat.


You guys, it was hard. Really hard. My mind kept wandering. I started fidgeting with my fitbit. I meal-planned for the week in my head. I struggled to turn everything off. But as I sat and stared, I began to sink into the moment. I observed a host of cool cloud formations dancing in the sky. I witnessed geese splashing about. I soaked up the beauty of sunflowers standing tall, waving in the wind. I sat.

And for five minutes of my day, I felt like a human being rather than a human doing.

I think I will practice this art more often. When was the last time you sat still for 5 minutes or more?

Be still and know that I am God.