I find myself grateful quite often. I’m a glass half full kinda gal and I think it makes life much easier to bear, and more enjoyable, when we continually count our blessings. I love that my frequent and verbal outbursts of gratitude are rubbing off on The Boy. I find him lately making lots of verbal notations of not just stuff, but “things” that he is grateful for. Even when I broke the news to him earlier this week, that although, yes, we were going to enjoy fun in the snow but then dive into a full day of school, he responded that he was grateful that not only would he be able to play in the snow (he was most excited about the possible promise of a gnarly snowball fight and the construction of a fort, to boot) but that our school would only take a few hours and he knew that was markedly less than if he went to public school.

Yesterday when he learned that one of his most beloved friends would be coming over for a sleepover the joy was clearly evident all over his face. It’s the kind of joy you wish you could bottle up for a rainy day, the kind that makes you grin from ear to ear, it’s that contagious. Typically on Thursdays we do a half day of school (which really entails focusing on the main subjects: language arts, math, science, history, etc without all the other stuff we normally do) so B wondered if perhaps we could double up on lessons so that today he and his friend could sleep in, play with abandon, and pretty much make merry.

And again it came, that gratitude that is easily slipping his lips and hearts these days: “Mom, I’m so grateful we can do this and that my friend can sleepover.” And then he looked at me and relayed that leaving his friends behind in Texas was the hardest thing he’d gone through, except losing his beloved JayJay (our sweet natured and irreplaceable boxer of only four years, who had stolen his heart and filled him with enough memories to last a lifetime). He followed this sentiment with the gratefulness that comes from understanding how blessed we are when really and truly we’ve done not a thing to deserve such amazing things: that he was so grateful for great friends here in Virginia.

I listen to these two and my own heart swells with gratitude. The funny thing is that as Brooks has created these incredibly meaningful relationships over the years I have found myself loving these kids myself, relishing in their accomplishments and joys just as much as if they were my own. More so than that, I am grateful for the lessons learned from these friendships, lessons this momma wouldn’t have been able to teach all on her own (especially with no siblings with which to teach lasting lessons of the heart).  The other day when his friend was over they got into the first “disagreement” I’d ever heard them get into. It had something to do with minecraft but the thing that got me most was how they disagreed with each other. They weren’t ugly, they didn’t raise their voices, they weren’t selfish or defensive. They stated how they felt, they listened to each other, and then they made light banter and soon they were both in peals of laughter, their disagreement behind them, nothing big to fuss over.

What I really wanted to do was run upstairs and hug The Boy. His poppa and I are extremely strict with him. We don’t take to any foolishness and typically let nothing slide. Sometimes I wonder if we are being too “much” but then I remind myself that we aren’t doing him any favors by confusing him or allowing bad habits or a hard heart to develop within him. One of Brooks’s earliest friendships blossomed quickly and then turned into constant battles. Brooks wanted to be right, always. He wouldn’t listen, wouldn’t see things from his friend’s perspective. It was maddening. It led to countless and repeated conversations. I refused not to repeat myself because I’d already said the same things a bazillion times. We read through books, did Bible studies, etc. etc. and still there was always someone in his life he cared about deeply but  couldn’t just deal with disagreements in a loving manner.

This last year was a turning point. I could see little things, I could see when certain kids, even friends would irritate him. LB was handling these situations with grace and love. He was keeping his cool. He wasn’t trying to be right. He wasn’t getting loud and overemotional. When he was wrong he was apologizing. When he wasn’t, he wasn’t pointing it out or judging others. He was simply moving on. And then came that disagreement last week. If he can go through life exhibiting that with those he loves and cares about most, how much richer will his life be?

I’m raising a little man who will court his future wife. Who will treat her with the respect and love and patience and gratitude she deserves. Who will see disagreements not as gateways to strife and anger and bitterness and division but as opportunities for understanding and love and even respectful disagreement.

So I find myself grateful for the friendships that B has developed. For the character traits he looks for in his friends. For the lessons learned that go beyond the pages of a book and play themselves out in life as moments to be remembered. I am grateful for the ability to allow him to nurture these friendships. And I know later today, after his friend is no longer with us, I have a feeling the first thing he’ll relay is how much fun they had and how grateful he was for the day.