A funny thing happened the other night. I was putting Wes down to sleep, singing and rocking and such. As I placed him down in his crib, I whispered I like you.
As soon as I said it, I laughed aloud in the quiet, dark room. I always told Wes I loved him before leaving the room, and I have no idea why something else came out of my mouth that night. Those words sounded so funny, so odd…I like you. What a weird thing to say to your baby, right?
The more I thought about it, though, the more it seemed like the perfect thing to say to a child. Of course I love Wes. But I really, really like him, too. He makes us smile all day long with his goofy grin and sly sense of humor. Max and Theo stop in the middle of a game and run across the room to give him a snuggle. They practically cheer when Wes wakes up in the morning. He brings us joy, and we feel blessed that he joined our family.
A few weeks ago, while I was sitting on the couch chatting with Max and Theo, I asked if they knew what I admired most about them. I explained to Max that I was smitten with his tenacity. If he sets his mind on some project or goal, nothing and no one (including his parents) is going to stop him. His passion is incredible. I told Theo that his curiosity about the world around him is magical, and I hope he never loses his special relationship with the word why.
We tell our children that we love them every single day of their lives. I know this is important and, believe me, we will continue to do that. Lately I’ve been thinking it might be a heck of a lot more meaningful to them if we tell them why we like them. What about their personalities impresses, surprises, or inspires us?
And here’s the tricky question–how often as parents do we put them in situations that allow their personalities to shine? It is hard to ‘like’ your child when you are in a situation that requires you to follow him around saying no repeatedly. I have a difficult time ‘liking’ the boys when they are pummeling each other with karate chops in my living room while I am on the phone.
That same energy becomes charming, though, when it is taken into the backyard, the beach, or up on a mountain. The boys are welcome to swing sticks and yell and run when they are in those environments. What made me want to rip my hair out inside seems energetic and magical outside.
Spring weather is around the corner, so let’s make sure we create lots of experiences that help us like our children more every day. Kids can be demanding and stressful and whiny and exhausting. But they are also energizing and charming and hilarious. Most of the time we just have to view them against the right backdrop.
Tomorrow is spring and so I wish you longer, warmer days that end with you being able to tell your children, after kissing them goodnight, I like you.