I buy him treats because I can. My teenager who now looks down on me by about 8 inches. My teenager who thinks he doesn’t need his mom anymore, and he’s probably mostly correct. Sigh.
So I surprise him with treats. Small things I know he likes.
I leave them in places where he will find them — on the front seat of the car, on the kitchen table, on the table beside his bed. For the most part, he is thankful, although sometimes he tells me he doesn’t eat junk food before a football game. Sometimes I think he takes my efforts for granted.
That’s OK. Sometimes it’s OK to take your mom for granted — especially when you are a teenager. Still, I enjoy providing little happy surprises whenever I can.
It’s a small gesture. But I’ve learned that small things can become big, or at least large enough to make a difference.
Sometimes, in life, it’s the little things. Heck, most of the time it’s the little things.
Big things happen, sure. But it’s not every day you get married, or give birth, or buy your first house, or get a new puppy or have all the socks match on laundry day. If we waited for big things like this to make us happy, most of us would spend most of our time waiting. And waiting is no way to spend a life — unless your driver’s license is up for renewal.
Hence the importance of the little things: finding a penny, petting your cat, sleeping in on a Saturday, popcorn and a movie, freshly washed sheets, a comfy sweatshirt, your favorite pair of jeans, a new Netflix show to binge watch, the first potato chip from a newly opened bag, planting a garden in the spring, harvesting in the fall, a smile from your spouse, a freshly brewed cup of coffee and chocolate.
Although some would argue that chocolate is not a little thing. That aside, I think we can agree: Little things are pretty easy to find.
And here’s the really good part: We are all capable of little things. For the most part, they are simple and take hardly any time or effort.
Like holding the door for someone. Or giving a compliment. Or a smile. Saying "good morning." Even saying a person’s name can bring on positive feelings because you are acknowledging them as an individual. How hard is it to say someone’s name?
And you know what? Kind gestures bring about a boomerang effect. We send them out and they come back at us, often twice as strong and twice as powerful.
There have been times when I’ve felt compelled to do something nice for a stranger. A little thing. Sometimes I hold back, thinking I shouldn’t interfere or get in the way. But there are those times when I let my gut speak and I act on my convictions.
And, even though my actions constitute something very small in the big scheme of things, when I get a positive reaction my heart gushes. Doing something nice brings nice back to you. Boomerang.
So there’s my confession. I give my son treats, because I can, but that’s not the total answer. Not if I am being honest. Of course I like making him happy. But that’s not why I do it.
I do it because it makes me happy to make him happy. It’s the logic of the human condition. We want the people we love to thrive and be happy — to feel wanted and needed and loved. And in doing this, we are doing the same for ourselves.
How’s that for a piece of good news for the day?
Jill Pertler is an award-winning syndicated columnist, published playwright, author and member of the National Society of Newspaper Columnists. Don’t miss a slice; follow the Slices of Life page on Facebook.