Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Forcing a thank you

How often do we say thank you in our lives? And how often do we mean it?

I say thank you a lot, at least I think I do, although I’m not sure how often it is thought of being genuine.

There’s normal courtesy, the sort we try to teach our children, to be polite and use our pleases and thank yous at the right times.

I actually think it is quite funny that there is no middle ground for kids.  They are cute and polite if they say thank you (especially without a prompt) and branded rude and uncouth if they forget one.

But is forcing a thank you always right?

When my son finished his last school year he decided he didn’t want to send his teacher a thank you note.  It wasn’t that he was disappointed in her performance – far from it – just that as his school is set up to have two school years with each teacher he thought he’d reserve his thanks.

So I wrote my kid’s teacher a thank you note.

It wasn’t out of embarrassment, and I didn’t write it from my son, disguising the fact he hadn’t written one, no, I wrote it from me.  As I thought it appropriate that my thanks be presented in a form probably not distinguishable from that of the efforts of Max’s then six-year-old classmates, obviously.

This year Max has honoured his pledge to write a card, and he was quite inventive with the front I thought.

Not sure if picturing himself in a single seat race car saying thank you is a metaphor for anything, her teaching setting Max on the fast lane to success perhaps, but his words inside are probably more important.

“What should I write, Dad?” He asked.

“Whatever you feel,” I replied.

He wrote a simple thank you, told his teacher to have fun, and that he will miss her next year.

I don’t doubt him being genuine, nor should his teacher.  He meant what he’d written, as he’d come up with it himself.  I didn’t really give him the opportunity to hide behind suggested words and phrases, I didn’t want him producing something, a card, just for the sake of it.

He’s also come up with an appropriate gift.  As his teacher often refers to him as her 'Toffee Coloured Teddy Bear', he’s bought her a, err, yes, you guessed right, a, toffee coloured teddy bear, and some toffee to go with it.

This is a genuine thank you, not one out of obligation or courtesy.

The best kind to receive, surely?