“What do you say?” We would ask you chidingly, whenever anyone gave you something.
“Thank you,” you’d say dutifully, eyes downward, waiting anxiously to play with whatever toy/book/food object that you were given. You’d say it (often after already grabbing whatever it was that was offered to you), and you’d scamper off.
As you got older, it got so we’d have to ask you less and less, until it was almost reflexive. You’d automatically say “Thank you!” , sometimes in anticipation. To be honest, it would always make me a little proud. Especially when someone would say to you, “Oh my! What nice manners you have.” You’d say “Thank You” again automatically.
I wonder sometimes, though, if we did you a disservice.
On one hand, we live in a society that expects that kind of behavior. Human interaction is lubricated with social niceties like “please” and “thank you”. Even phrases like “How are you?” are said in passing and we scarcely wait to acknowledge the response. But everyone does it, and at least here it’s the bare minimum to get by in life. It’s only those people who don’t do that stick out like a sore thumb. “How rude,” we tell ourselves. “He didn’t say thank you!”
On the other hand, by numbing ourselves to the actual sentiment, we do ourselves a disservice. While society might run on “niceties”, our internal world is all the more richer if we actually feel them. True gratitude is actually grace for both the giver and the receiver. I’ve noticed that when I feel *truly* thankful for a gift, it deepens the relationship between myself and the giver. And on the flip side, when I give a gift to someone who I *feel* truly appreciates it, it deepens my feeling for them. I *want* to do more for them.
So maybe what I should be teaching you is this: be thankful, instead of saying “Thank you”. Perhaps saying “Thank you” is the natural effect of feeling thankful, but I’d rather you cultivate that feeling as opposed to mimicking the words.