One of the best feelings, as a parent or otherwise, is when your child first tells you that they love you, and you know they really understand what they’re saying. It’s something in their eyes.
As they grow, it’s as if they can’t tell you enough. With my kids anyway. Sometimes they’ll say I love you so many times in a day I want to yell at them, “I LOVE YOU TOO, OK??”
I hate it when I feel that. I work hard at not feeling that by reminding myself that they are saying it because they want to hear me say sweetly, “I love you too, Baby”, and if they keep repeating it, it’s because they are insecure in some way–I’m not giving them enough attention, most likely.
Most of the time though, when they’re young at least, they say it because it means so many things to them. They have that one phrase to let you know how thankful they are for you and what you do for them; how much they appreciate you providing food for them, brushing their hair, buying them clothes and toys, and creating a warm, safe environment in which they can grow.
What’s especially cool then, is when they begin to learn that there are other ways to express these things. When they can tell you exactly how they are feeling about you at the moment.
I remember noticing this when Sadie was about four. She was really sick with the flu, and I had been up with her in the night for what seemed like hours, sitting with her on my lap on the bathroom floor out of sheer convenience. I had just freshened up a damp towel in the sink and put it on her forehead when she looked up at me and said “Mama, thank you for taking such good care of me.” It was more than words. It was pure emotion, and made her cry as she said it.
Dexter’s was today. Just a few minutes ago. He’s sick with a cold–nothing too bad, just a runny nose, a bit of a cough, and a slight fever I just discovered. After propping him up on pillows in my bed, giving him medicine and a snack and fresh water and finding something he wanted to watch on tv, he said “Mama, thank you for taking care of me when I’m sick.”
As for Brian…unfortunately I don’t remember this moment with him. Things were not good when he was at that age. His dad and I were breaking up, and he was in turmoil. Anyhow, what’s funny is at almost 16, you’d think he’d have a thousand different ways of telling me he loves me. But no. It’s as if he’s reverted back to babyhood–he simply says “I love you, Mom”.
Of course, I have to say…at fifteen, and 6’1″ tall, when my “baby” hugs me and tells me he loves me? It’s good enough.