Thank-You Game

    “Thank-You Game,” Tambuli, Feb. 1995, 6–7

    Thank-You Game

    Alison knew it was going to be a bad day. The world outside was gray and drizzly. Mommy told her she had to clean her room. And—worst of all—there was a big bowl of cold oatmeal on the table that she still had to eat.

    “I wish it was tomorrow already,” she mumbled.

    Mommy looked up from her work. “Oh, things aren’t that bad, are they?”

    Alison nodded without saying anything more. “Well, then,” Mommy said, “why don’t we play the thank-you game? Find a reason to be grateful for everything you can. No complaining is allowed. If you can do it the whole day, I’ll give you a surprise.”

    “That’s a funny game,” said Alison.

    “I’ll help you begin. Why are you grateful for oatmeal?”

    Alison thought a moment. “I guess it’s better than a bowl of bugs to eat.”

    “Well, that’s a start,” Mommy chuckled.

    Alison gobbled down her oatmeal, to get it over with. “I’m grateful I have orange juice to help wash the oatmeal down,” she said.

    Then she went to her room. It was a mess! How can I be grateful for a messy room? she wondered. “I know—I’m grateful I have these toys to play with.” She hummed as she put them all away.

    The drizzle outside turned into a freezing rain that tap-tap-tapped against the window. Alison pressed her nose against the frosty glass.

    I’m grateful the rain comes so that the flowers don’t get thirsty, she thought.

    When her room was tidy, she got out her modeling clay. She made funny shapes with it and squished it through her fingers. “I’m grateful for things that feel good in my hands,” she giggled.

    Alison was having a busy day. Soon her eyelids began to grow heavy.

    “I think it’s nap time,” Mommy said.

    Alison was going to complain, but she remembered that it wasn’t allowed. She climbed onto her bed and reached for her stuffed rabbit. “I’m grateful I have Charlie to snuggle with,” she told Mommy.

    The thank-you game got easier and easier. It wasn’t turning out to be such a bad day, after all!

    That night Mommy looked pleased. “You played the game really well, Alison,” she said. “Here’s your surprise.” She gave Alison a pink ribbon for her hair, along with her usual hug and kiss.

    Alison smiled. “It turned out to be a really nice day,” she said. “I’m grateful for surprises and hugs and kisses and you!

    Illustrated by Shauna Mooney Kawasaki