Gabby, an aspiring rock star, learns the importance of expressing gratitude. (Duration: 18:43) Theme music by Kevin Macleod – Incompetech.com. Want to listen offline? Click the download icon on the player above to download this episode to your device.
Episode 3: Gabby and the Gratidudes
The very first thing Gabby Gerber does every morning is jam. Not the kind you spread on toast. I’m talking about a bonafide rock ‘n roll jam session. The second her alarm clock chirps she bounces out of bed, flips on her keyboard, and lets the rock inspiration flow. To Gabby, no jam session is complete without a couple vocal solos and an occasional shout out to one of her many idols whose portraits grace her walls.
Every inch of paint is covered by a poster of Bon Jovi, David Bowie, Queen, Led Zeppelin, Guns ‘n Roses, all of the greats. Secretly, or at least she hopes to keep it secret, she sometimes talks to them, even sings tributes to them, often making promises that one day she’d make them proud and become the greatest rock legend to ever live.
One morning, not too long ago, Gabby woke up with an extra boost of rock juice. She jumped off her bed, flipped on the keyboard, and starting playing in one swift motion. Once her keyboard solo was done she jumped to the side and started playing an air guitar. That’s right, she didn’t have a real guitar. But who needs one when you can shred the air with fingers like lightning. Let me ask you this, can you play a five minute air guitar solo with your teeth? Psh, in your dreams. Gabby on the other hand can do that and play the pillow drums with one hand. Yes that’s a thing, playing the drums on pillows. It’s called “I’m too poor to buy a drumset”. And it’s a complicated musical process that involves you banging on pillows like a chimpanzee and making drum noises with your mouth.
Gabby brought her jam session to an end with a thunderous round of the drums and a crash of the teddy bear symbol. Ah, the sweet sound of music. Gabby loved playing every morning and dreaming of one day rocking out in front of thousands of screaming fans. But the truth was, she was sick of doing it alone. She wanted more than anything to be in a band. Like a real, rock ‘n roll band with a singer, guitarist, bass player, drums, you know, the usual recipe of legends. Jumping from one fake instrument to another was exhausting, not to mention embarrassing any time their neighbor Miss Puffin saw her through the window jamming like a crazy woman any time she was out watering her garden.
“Gabby, your breakfast is getting cold!” her mom called from downstairs.
Gabby rolled her eyes and headed down.
Her family sat at the table waiting for her and in front of them was a pile of waffles her mom had worked hard to prepare. They were her dad’s favorite and she could tell he was irritated for having to wait so long for Gabby to join them.
“Gabby, you mind blessing the food?” asked her dad.
“Whatever,” she mumbled. And in five seconds flat she slurred together enough memorized words to bless the food and get on with breakfast. As she ended with “amen” her parents looked at each other with a “what are we gonna do with this girl” kind of look.
Gabby, of course, didn’t notice because she was too busy playing David Bowie’s “Space Oddity” in her head. In two freakish bites she scarfed down her waffle and bolted out the door, not saying a word to her family.
The bus to school wasn’t much different. Gabby listened to music the whole ride there and as usual said nothing to the driver Mr. Tollman as he gave a friendly wave and wished all the kids a good day at school.
Like clockwork she stepped off the bus and walked up to her school where her teacher Mrs. Little was waiting for them, holding the door open with a big smile on her face. Gabby wished she would give the smile a rest for a day. Holding it for every kid had to be painful for her face and it was awkward when Gabby felt like she had to force a smile back at her. Mrs. Little could tell by Gabby’s salty expression that she was either going to be a real treat during class, aka a major distraction, or completely non-responsive and just tune out the entire lesson. To Mrs. Little’s dismay, Gabby did a lot of both that day.
At lunch, Gabby sat next to her friends Tyson and Emily, who were used to Gabby’s regular rantings about how rock is dead and that music just isn’t the same nowadays. Tyson and Emily just wanted to talk about recess and what they were going to do after school. But like always that would have to wait.
“I can’t believe they even played it on the radio,” Gabby rambled. “It’s like, hellooOOoo it’s the same five words over and over and over. Ugh! I’m so done hearing it.”
“Then don’t,” said Emily, swallowing a bite of her PB&J.
“Don’t listen to it. If you don’t like Taylor Swift, don’t turn on the radio. ‘Cause guess what, she’s gonna be on almost every station.”
Gabby was taken aback by Emily’s sudden boldness. She was usually the one she could count on to numbly nod and agree with everything she said. Well, not any more. Emily seemed pretty fed up with floating around in Gabby’s universe every lunch.
“Want a Gusher?” asked Tyson stretching out his little yellow bag for Gabby.
Gabby made a gagging noise. “They’re fruit snacks with goo in them. Gross!”
Tyson slowly pulled his little bag back, looking at it like she’d just insulted a homemade gift he’d been working on for months. The rest of lunch was as stale as Emily’s pizza – not much talk and a whole lot of staring off into space.
For a second, an extremely brief second, a thought crossed Gabby’s mind that made her squirm. Was she being…rude? Were people put off by her? She had to admit it was a particularly rough day, but the more she thought about it, the more she realized how routine most of her interactions were. Naaaaaaah, she brushed her conscience aside and threw her trash away.
On her way out of the cafeteria a poster caught her eye. “Band Tryouts,” it read. “Come show us your stuff! We’re looking for a gracious rocker to join our crew. Meet here in the cafeteria/auditorium tomorrow at 3:30 PM for a chance to become a Gratidude!” The poster was written in a lightning bolt font and had a dramatic black and white picture of a flamboyantly dressed, shaggy haired band. Finally, Gabby thought, a chance to show my stuff. She looked at the crazy hairdo’s in the picture and tried to mess up her own hair to look like them. She even made the same kissy face as the drummer in the photo, making Todd Freeman laugh as he walked by her.
“What are you waiting for Gabs, go on and kiss it already,” he joked.
“Shut it!” she barked.
Three thirty the next day could not have taken any longer to come. The day dragged on as usual. Her mom made a heap of pancakes that she inhaled before running out the door. She tuned everyone out on the bus and nearly took off Mr. Tollman’s waving hand as she ran passed him. Andon her way into school she didn’t even acknowledge Mrs. Little who held the door open for her. During her class, Gabby stared at the clock all day, waiting anxiously for the bell to ring. She hugged her keyboard case close. Please don’t blow it, she thought to herself.
When the bell finally rang she bolted for the auditorium. As she ran through the doors she skidded to a stop. The sounds of her screeching shoes echoed in the big room because there was no other sound inside. And there was no sound inside because there were no people.
“Is this a joke?” she said, looking around to see if someone was ready to jump out and prank her.
Just as she was ready to storm off she noticed a piece of paper taped to the stage’s closed curtain. She walked over and snatched it up. “Only a gracious rocker can join the Gratidudes. Show us what you got by going a full day thanking everyone around you for what they do. Rock a bye, baby! – The Gratidudes.”
Gabby stared at the note for what felt like an hour. Was this for real? They couldn’t be serious, right? Thanking her way into a band? It was Ozzy Osborne CRAZY train. But it didn’t matter. She was desperate and if telling a few people thank you would keep her from doing pillow drum solos it was worth it.
The next day Gabby jumped out of bed, jammed out for fifteen minutes, and ran downstairs. Patiently, her family sat in front of bowls of now-cold oatmeal waiting for her. Gabby took a seat next to them.
Her dad cleared his throat. “Gabs,” he said, “Will you offer the prayer?”
“Sure,” she replied.
The light tone in her response made her parents perk up.
Gabby made an effort to slow down. In fact, it was the slowest prayer she’d ever said. And with that extra time to think, she remembered what the paper in the auditorium had said, “thank everyone.” So she thanked Heavenly Father for the food and for all he had given them. When she said amen a guitar riff sounded from above.
The family looked at each other. Her dad’s eyes bounced from side to side. “We all heard that, right?”
Gabby’s mom wasn’t sure what she’d heard.
Gabby’s brother was looking at her like a stranger had just sat down at the table.
After breakfast Gabby grabbed her backpack and bolted out the door. Then stopping herself, stepped back into the house. “Mom,” she said, trying to push the words out as if they were too big to fit out her mouth, “thanks for breakfast…it…was…delicious.”
Her mom stepped back and grabbed onto the counter to keep from falling over, knocking over some utensils in the process. “W-What did you say?”
“I said, thanks,” repeated Gabby with a little more ease.
“Jim! JIM!” her mom called.
Gabby’s dad ran over. “What? Are you okay?”
“She just said… Gab, say it again, for your dad to hear. Listen to this Jim. Go on honey.”
Jim looked down at Gabby like she was a one year old about to say her first words.
“Oh my!” Her parents embraced each other as an electric bass sounded out of nowhere. Her parents were too overjoyed to even notice. Her dad cried, “There is hope after all!”
On the bus, Gabby sat quietly all the way to school, not listening to music, just sitting with her hands on her keyboard case and thinking. What was with the heavenly rockers? She wondered. Was she hearing things? Maybe she’d finally listened to one song too many.
When they stopped, Gabby was the first to step off the bus.
“Thanks for the ride, Mr. Tollman,” she said with a smile.
A drum roll sounded from the bus roof.
Mr. Tollman ignored it and looked at her as a dad does when his daughter graduates from an ivy league school. “You’re welcome, Gabby! Have a wonderful day!” He said, waving so hard he honked the bus horn a couple of times.
As Gabby stepped off she noticed something unusual. She was feeling good, like really good. And it was becoming easier to say thank you every time she said it. As if that wasn’t weird enough, she turned and saw every kid getting off the bus following her example and saying thank you to Mr. Tollman for the ride. With every thank you his smile got a little bigger.
What was this feeling? She wondered.
Her thoughts were interrupted by her teacher as she walked up to the school doors.
“Good morning, Gabby!” said Mrs. Little with her usual cheeriness.
“Good morning, Mrs. Little!” said Gabby.
Mrs. Little raised her eyebrows in surprise.
“I just wanted to thank you for, you know, being our teacher, and preparing our lessons and what not. My parents say you don’t get paid enough and they’re probably right. So, thanks!”
Mrs. Little’s jaw dropped. At first it seemed the random burst of vocal solo that followed was coming from her gaping mouth, but it wasn’t. The sound was coming out of nowhere.
“I’m sorry, Gabs. I think I’m hearing things,” said her teacher. “You are so welcome.”
Gabby noticed that in class that day it was a lot easier to pay attention to Mrs. Little’s lesson. It could’ve been because Mrs. Little had a little extra pep in her step, but it was more likely due to the fact that Gabby finally realized and appreciated all the hard work Mrs. Little put into teaching her class. And the more she thought about it the more she wanted to listen to her, to pay attention, and participate. The funny thing was, as she listened and participated she actually enjoyed what was being taught. She wanted to learn more.
At lunch, her friends Tyson and Emily could tell something was up.
“Are you okay?” asked Emily.
“Yeah, why?” said Gabby, happily eating the carrot sticks her mom had packed for her.
“Because you’re acting like you’ve been abducted by aliens and brainwashed.”
Gabby took another crunchy bite of carrot. “Maybe I was.”
Tyson unraveled some of his fruit by the foot and held it out for Gabby.
“Uh, G-G-Gab, you want some?” Tyson asked, already wincing and bracing himself as if she was going to punch him in the nose.
Gabby paused. She really really didn’t like fruit by the foot. So how could she refuse him without being unkind? She thought for a moment and then said,
“No, thank you. I appreciate the offer though. Want a vanilla wafer?” She dug out a little yellow cookie and handed it to him.
Tyson looked at it like it was a solid gold nugget. “Sure, thanks!”
Just then, a low strum sounded from the stage curtains behind their table. Gabby looked over the cafeteria to see if the other kids were hearing it too and sure enough they were. Each table gradually hushed and turned to face the closed stage curtains.
The electric guitar strums grew louder. They built until more instruments joined in and then…
WHOOSH! The curtains flew open and there were the Gratidudes jamming on stage! Their costumes and hairdos were even more rad than Gabby had imagined. At their feet was a thin wispy layer of fog and above them was a big blinking sign that read, “Gratitude is Rad-a-Dude!”
The lead singer stepped up to the mic, still playing and looking way too cool for their school.
“Can Gabby Gerber please stand up?” he asked in a British accent.
Gabby stood like a brainless zombie.
Principle Taylor was tripping over himself. “Um, what’s going on here? This isn’t a fundraising assembly? Who are you guy-” He was cut short by a loud guitar riff that sent him whimpering into a corner.
“Gabby,” the singer continued, “ You have demonstrated the heart of a girl who is finally truly grateful for the people around her. And that, girl, makes you the raddest Gratidude on the face of planet earth. This might sound a bit freaky, it was Todd’s idea for the record, but we followed you around all day and witnessed the contagious attitude you spread with your graciousness. You were brilliant! Care to join us?”
The bassist stepped aside to reveal a bedazzled golden keyboard, plugged in and ready for her. The kids cheered as she stepped onto the stage and behind the rad keyboard. Todd, the bassist, tossed her a bright purple coat. “Your attic is really dirty by the way,” he said with genuine concern.
Together, they rocked their school so hard the roof nearly blew off. And from that day on, Gabby always remembered to recognize all she had and thank the people around her. When she wasn’t in school, enjoying class and paying attention, she was off touring with the Gratidudes, spreading gracious tunes one concert at a time.
Discuss with your child why we express gratitude, why it’s important, and its positive effect on others as well as yourself. Note the changes Gabby went through as she gave thanks throughout the day. Did you notice how it became easier to say thank you the more she did it? Did you see how her gracious attitude was contagious with the other kids on the bus? Having an attitude of gratitude will help you create strong relationships, appreciate life, and be happier. One of the most powerful things you can do when you’re feeling sad and down is to think of all the many wonderful things you have in your life – a roof over your head, a loving family, friends, etc. As we recognize the many blessings we have, our troubles are made lighter.
- Make a list of everything you’re grateful for. Share your list with each other. If you want to take it a step further, make a paper gratitude chain. Write something you’re grateful for on each strip of paper and then connect the strips and hang them in your room.
- Write “Thank You” notes to everyone you’re grateful for and go around handing them out throughout the day
- If you’re religious, dedicate an entire prayer to simply thanking Heavenly Father for all that he has given you. Doing this will help you recognize his hand in your life and you will develop a greater appreciation for the many blessing he gives you.