You can never be too grateful or too young to learn about gratitude. On February 4, 2016, I attended career day at Mater Academy Charter Middle School. My dear old friend, Leslie, asked me to speak to her 6th grade, gifted writing students. After a lot of planning (I was more nervous to speak in front of a bunch of kids than I do before speaking in front of adults), I spoke to 4 classes about my career in marketing and public relations, my lifestyle brand, Wine With Nat, and gratefulness.
With a little help from my mom and Chicken Soup for the Teenage Soul, the book she left me a year before she passed, I read The Cost of Gratefulness to the students; a story about a 13-year-old boy and his father, who always treated him to ice cream. One day, the father asked his son to treat, but the boy decided not to. The son later realized he had made a mistake and missed the opportunity to spend quality time with his father.
This book is special to me. My mom left a dedication in it. Her words affected my soul, and I wanted to bring the same might to these students. After reading them the story, I asked them to write a couple of paragraphs on gratefulness. Leslie, their teacher, helped me select the top 4 to share on my blog. Here are their stories. I have no doubt that they will bring a smile to your face and remind you that there is always something to be grateful for.
Before my grandpa died, I would always go to his house, while my mom was working. I would run around the house, bake cookies, and take a nap. I was 5, so taking a nap wasn’t always easy. So when my mom would come home she would help my grandpa with undone chores, and I would help too. When we would leave, he would always give me fifty cents or a dollar depending on how I behaved. This would happen every time I went over there. One day he was in need of money, so that he could go to the market to get us food. Luckily, I had 5 dollars in my pants. I gave him the money, and told him, “Here grandpa you earned it.” He smiled and said “Thank you, you are the best grandchild ever!”, but he said that in Spanish. We went to the market to get bread and butter, and orange juice. We went home and ate. From that day forward, I learned how to be grateful, and I learned that I really like butter.
Last Saturday my aunt and I went to see my uncle in prison. I was so upset because my aunt bought me some jeans and a shirt. The clothes were cool but I didn’t like it, it wasn’t my style. However, I had to wear it and I did. All day long I was inside the building with the most biggest attitude ever. So after 5 minutes my uncle said “Hey, why do you look so mad”. Before I can even respond my aunt says “He is mad because he doesn’t like his clothes." Well my uncle told me to look across the street.
On the way to the car I see this mysterious man walk by with no shoes on. After that I looked across the street and I saw people without shirts or pants and they were sleeping on the floor. As I looked at those people I was grateful for what I had. Not everyone gets what they want, but you should be grateful for what you have. Now I am grateful for anything I get and anything I don’t get because I know my family tries their best to get it.
So, one day in the summer of 2015, I went to the mall to shop for shoes with my parents. We went to about 4 different stores. After about 3 hours. We found the perfect pair of shoes.
They had a glistening light and a white angelic view which captivated me from every which way. They were a pair of Michael Jordan’s. I asked my parents, but they showed me the price tag. This shocked me because it was $120. I exclaimed nervously, “Nevermind, he, he, he.” But my parents bought it for me nevertheless.
This taught me to be grateful for everything and really value my items because I know that there are people less fortunate than me.
It was December 20, 2010. My family and I had just walked into the house. The time was around 9:00, and the mood of the sky was starting to get gloomy. As one of my three siblings walked into the shower, my mom’s phone rang “ring-ring, ring-ring”. As it turns out it was my grandma calling that my grandpas brother, Manolo had past.
My whole family broke into tears, especially me. I felt for my grandpa he had lost his mother and father. Now, Manolo. Manolo was my grandpas only living sibling. I remembered to stay strong, because there is always good in the bad. This event has taught me to be grateful, because you never know what you have until you lose it.
The teacher on gratefulness.
I am grateful for so much in my life. My parents raised me to be an independent thinker, a doer, a leader…they are my rock. Without them I would not be the positive, hard-working mother, wife, or woman I am today. I have had phenomenal female role models guide me, like my great grandmother, grandmother, and mother. They instilled values that are what made me who I am today, as a woman, mother, friend, teacher and more. I am grateful for my husband and kids, who without their positivity, light and love, I would not be as good a teacher as I am...They encourage me to be my best. My son, 8 years old, is high-functioning autistic. I am extremely thankful for his progress that can be attributed to his amazing teachers, school and supporters! I am a huge advocate for autism and special needs students in the classroom. I teach as if every single one of my 180 students was mine. I see my son in all of them and I teach them as I want my own children's teachers to teach and love them. All in all, I must say I am extremely blessed. Regardless of the many obstacles I have had thrown my way, I am stronger because of them. I have overcome many of them and still live with a few roadblocks. However, with God, my family, friends and career, I can't say anything except I am grateful. I am happy.
As a student, Leslie had always been drawn to language arts. Thanks to her 8th grade English honors teacher, Mrs. Callow, Leslie is now using that passion that was instilled in her to teach students. By implementing cross-curricular material and technology, she keeps the learning environment lively for those students who would otherwise be less likely to want to read and write. Leslie has been teaching since 2006 and is on her third year of teaching advanced and gifted Language Arts at Mater Academy Charter Middle School.
Big kudos to Leslie and all the students who are learning the power of words!
Special thanks to Nicky Valdes, my favorite unofficial proofreader.