This morning I had my children write Thank You notes to their friends who gave them birthday presents. I am not always on top of these things, but I do make an effort.
I try not to label, and I certainly don’t believe in stereotypes, but how my children responded to what I wanted them to do amazed me. It was a textbook example of how boys differ from girls.
As soon as my daughter heard the instructions, she immediately sat on her chair and began writing. She gathered her writing materials and proceeded methodically—checking the names off the list as she writes a card to each of her friends, even writing bubble letters, and putting stickers on some cards.
My son on the other hand, tried to reason out, negotiate, and compromise even before starting, and even more so while already writing. At first, he tried to postpone the task, “Can I do it next time?”
If I had agreed, by the time he writes the cards, it would be embarrassingly too late to hand them out.
So, when that didn’t work, he appealed to reason: “Didn’t I write thank you notes and attached them to the goodie bags that I handed out? Why do I have to write them again?”
The personalized goodie bag was to thank each one for coming to the party; the thank you card is for the gift.
When that failed to convince me to let him go back to playing, he tried the personal approach, “Can’t I just call them up and say thank you?”
Hmmm, he did have a point. I would have my children call my siblings to thank them for the gifts that were posted in the mail. We have always called for family, but for friends/classmates we have always given cards.
By the time my son was ready to whine again, I was ready for my spiel:
Your friends took time out to choose a present for you. The least you can do is to write them a thank you card to show that you appreciate the time, effort, and money that they put in getting you a gift. If you don’t like to do that, then for your next birthday, we won’t invite anyone.
And what do you know… just like that, the cards were done!