Aside from getting ready for Thanksgiving, it’s a big week around here because my daughter is graduating from speech. After a year of weekly speech therapy sessions, she has met her goals and she now has expressive language and letter sounds that a three-year old should have.
The transformation has been nothing short of amazing. When she turned two she could not say “mommy” which is the first word most babies say. One year later, she says mommy and so much more. Pretend tea parties are her favorite these days so she just invited me to her tea party and asked me to drink a cup of tea and eat a piece of pie. Then there are her songs that fill the house with those joyous sounds young children make. Her repertoire is an interesting one, ranging from “My First Flight” from Sofia the First to Journey’s “Separate Ways”. She even hits Steve Perry’s “Noooooo!” at the end.
I am incredibly grateful to Anne, my daughter’s therapist who patiently and diligently worked with my daughter. Speech is a wonderful gift so how do you repay someone whose work has made all of our lives better? Instead of tears and hitting now we have sweet, wonderful words.
This time of year quite a bit of time is spent on figuring out how much to give or what the appropriate gift should be for those people you encounter every day that make your life easier. You know, the folks who deliver your mail, your newspaper, the crew who cuts your grass and picks up your leaves, removes your snow. How about the time spent figuring out how much of an extra holiday tip to give your hairdresser?
Then there are the kids’ teachers. The envelopes for a suggested donation come home or there might be an email from the principal about these completely voluntary and discretionary gifts but again, there is definitely a deliberation process not so much about whether to give but how much. In a way, culturally we are programmed to tip.
But how about those strangers who come into your life, sometimes just because you happen to need them on their shift or they are more or less randomly assigned to you simply because they are available or free at the time? I am talking about the people who deliver your baby, nurse you back to health after surgery, and care for a loved one as they lay dying. They are with you for a short, yet incredibly intense time. These strangers give us the most valuable gifts of all: a healthy child, a healthy mother, comfort, peace. And speech.
We didn’t choose Anne to help my daughter talk. She just happened to have an open slot when I called for an evaluation. But I am so glad she was.
These strangers give us these gifts yet we spend so little time figuring out how to thank them. In the sad-but-true category, usually it’s just a “thank you” because they have to move on to another patient or another client who has the same intense need you did. Anne got hugs and thank yous from my daughter and me but I still feel like I should have done more. At the same time, I feel it would have been horribly inappropriate to slip her an envelope crammed full of money. Anne was just happy to work with a patient who was making good progress and the utility and satisfaction derived from my daughter’s progress made up for any lack of tip or other compensation.
So maybe that is the answer. The intimate strangers in our lives for lack of a better term aren’t in it for the money and helping us is all the compensation they want outside their salary. Or is it? Still, I don’t know. I feel like I should do more, even more than this blanket thank you delivered via a blog post. Maybe a traditional, old school thank you note? Now there’s an idea.
Does anyone else struggle with this? Is there an appropriate way to show thanks outside a sincere “thank you”?
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