Teaching kids to be grateful for school? Good luck.

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Kids and school

Kids and school (Hero Images / Getty Images / May 5, 2014)

I had an epiphany while reading Dr. Seuss to my son the other day.

We were enjoying "Did I Ever Tell You How Lucky You Are?," a 1973 gem about an old man in the Desert of Drize who counsels a young listener to count his blessings.

When you think things are bad,

when you feel sour and blue,

when you start to get mad …

you should do what I do!

Just tell yourself, Duckie

you're really quite lucky!

Some people are much more …

oh, ever so much more …

oh, muchly much-much more

unlucky than you!

I use this logic exhaustively on my kids with little to no success. They may, in fact, consider cauliflower a nutrient-dense gift from the earth. They might revere bedtime as a daily reminder of their warm, safe home and all of its accouterments. It's possible they regard education as a privilege.

But they're not letting on.

Still, I yammer on about how really quite lucky they are, particularly when it comes to school.

"Getting up at 7 is not a hardship, sweetie. Girls in Afghanistan risk their lives for an education."

Sluggish homework habits, morning feet dragging, lunchbox bellyaching — all grounds for my earnest reminders.

Now we're gearing up for a new school year — one kid off to kindergarten, another heading to third grade and a third embarking on eighth. So I happened to be taking stock of my motivational tools and whether they, in fact, motivate, when my soon-to-be kindergartner and I sat down with Dr. Seuss.

The story, which may be a parody of my parenting style, a skewering of the excesses of childhood, a morality tale on the human condition or none of the above, goes like this:

And, speaking of plants

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