I read this story in Rabbi Joseph Telushkin's book The Book of Jewish Values. Just a simple story has made me think about how I interact with my children.
Allen Sherman, the comic songwriter best known for "Hello Muddah, Hello Faddah" wrote about an incident in his childhood. One morning he heard his Yiddish-speaking grandmother announce that she needed a "football" for a party she would be hosting that evening. Although he wondered why his grandmother needed a football, he was determined to get one for her. He went around his neighborhood and finally found one boy, a bully who punched Sherman in the nose before agreeing to exchange his football for one of Sherman's best toys.
Sherman took the football home, polished it till it shone, and left it out for his grandmother to find. His mother saw it first, and became upset with him for leaving his toys around. When he explained that it was for his grandmother's party, his mother burst into laughter: "A football for the party? Don't you understand your own grandma? Not a football, fruit bowl. Grandma needs a fruit bowl for the party."
Humiliated, the boy ran up to his room, slammed the door, and refused to come down to the party. But a little while later, his mother brought him downstairs, where he saw his grandmother proudly walking around the room with a large bowl filled with a variety of beautiful fruits and in the middle, the polished football he had brought home. When a guest asked her what a football was doing in the middle of her fruit bowl, she told him about the gift from her grandson and added, "From a child is beautiful, anything."
I want to be the kind of mother who makes my children feel that everything they do their best on, every gift they give to me, is the best possible thing I could want.