My daughter is at the age where she’s talking a lot – like all the time, constantly – but only making sense about 30 percent of the time. She tries really hard, and she uses all the right motions and facial expressions, but her words are a little mushy and her sentence structure is all backwards. It’s like talking to a drunk Yoda.
My trick is to listen for a little keyword somewhere in there, anything that I can tie back to a main point. That part isn’t hard. She’s two. Her life isn’t that complicated. I really just have to pay attention for some variation of “funny,” “pacifier”, “no”, “food” or “poop.” (Now that I think about it, that’s really anything anyone could want to talk about. That’s all the categories.)
This particular time, she was really on a role. Blah blah blah…then “snack.” Oh! Snack! “Do you want a snack, honey?” “Yes.”
I got up, went to the kitchen and poured out some Goldfish Crackers in a bowl for her. I wish I knew how much my life was about to change in that moment, because I might have paid more attention. My life will forever be divided into two parts: everything that happened before I gave her that snack and everything that comes after.
When I handed her the bowl, she said “thank you.”
That was the first time I’d ever heard her say it. “Thank you.” It was so grown-up and perfect. It hit my ears like the first time I heard Bohemian Rhapsody. In that moment, time slowed down. My heart filled with joy – pure, juicy, thick joy. I’m telling you, her little voice saying “thank you” was so cute, it literally took my breath away. It was so cute, I felt dizzy and had to brace myself on the counter. My mouth was so agape, it dried up. With what was left of my scratchy voice, I croaked, “What was that, honey?”
There it was again! Holy crap, that was cute. It was just as cute as the first time! My heart rate exploded, I was short of breath, I was disoriented. In the same instant, I wanted to both stay in the moment and roll back the clock. Seriously. The agony and pleasure of that moment permanently damaged my body.
Days later, after I had recovered, I reflected back on that moment. The heart beating, the shortness of breath, the dry mouth, the disorientation, the dizziness, the split mind…I was experiencing the same symptoms as a heroin addict.
That’s what hearing “thank you” is like. It’s like smack for parents.
So pay attention to parents from now on. They’re always giving stuff to kids and saying, “Now what do you say?” “Hey, what do you say!” We’re always wanting them to say thank you. And why? It’s not because we’re trying to teach manners. It’s because we’re chasing that next hit. “Johnny, what do you say? What do you say! Say Thank You, Johnny. Please, just a little bit. I just need a little bit. I could take a thanks.” Guys, this is an obsession and it’s real.
Hi everyone. I’m a Thank You addict. I know recovery is a long road, but I’m optimistic. I know I can stay strong, but heaven help me the first time my daughter says she loves me. It’ll probably put me in the hospital.