Love You Forever

Over the course of the last nine years, I have read “Love You Forever” several times.  And every time, I kid you not, I get so choked up that I can not finish the story.  I am comforted by knowing that I am not alone.  Many of my friends also find themselves in this predicament.  I don’t think any of our children even know the ending.  They think the boy’s life stops after the teenage years.  Click on the link above to read the story.  The link doesn’t have pictures, but this is a timeless tale that doesn’t really need pictures.  It’s a story that you find yourself living out, inserting your own self and your own grown son into each timeline.  Or daughter.   Don’t want to leave the princesses out!

I am not a perfect mom.  I never will be.  I get irritated easily.  I like to be left alone.  I don’t keep every picture my children draw me.  I don’t tolerate bad behavior.  Puppy dog eyes do nothing to soften me.  I don’t change my mind once I’ve made a decision.  I don’t build my children up with a false sense of achievement.

Jace wanted to play baseball when he was 7.  He was not good at it.  He was the equivalent of Ferdinand the Bull, sniffing flowers in the outfield.  And, really, I’m glad, because we are not into sports around here.  However, Jace did have some kids on his team that practiced every day who really loved the sport and excelled in it.

One day he asked me, “Am I the best baseball player on the team?”

This seems like an appropriate time to inform you that we do not tolerate lying for any reason in our home.  This bit of instruction can also be found in the Ten Commandments under “Do not bear false witness.”  I was an adult before I knew that meant don’t lie.

So I told him that no, he was not the best player on the team.  He, of course, started crying.  We don’t teach the “Every child is a winner” line of thinking around here.  If you work hard, then you can be a winner.  If you don’t work hard, then you are not deserving of sharing in the winner’s circle.  Welcome to life in the real world.  Quit setting your child up for failure, and start teaching your child that the only place success comes before work is in the dictionary.

You may be asking yourself, “What good did that do to hurt your child’s feelings?”  A lot, actually.

  • My son knows that I will never, under any circumstance, lie to him.  If he wants to know something, he just has to ask.  My family will never be able to tell my child anything about me that he doesn’t already know.
  • My son knows that if he succeeds at something that it is because he worked hard to get there.  Therefore, he appreciates other people’s success.  He’s not jealous of it.  He admires it.

I am willing to admit that I am not a perfect mom, because I have dedicated the last 9 years of my life studying the subject of parenting.  I will never be perfect.  You will never be perfect.  We all change with our life experiences and the guidance that we give our children will need to change depending on their life experiences.  But there are little things that you can do to solidify a place in their life in order to ensure that they will come to you for that guidance.  Not that they will follow it, but the chances increase with age.

From the time they are born, you need to reassure them daily of your love in little ways.

Here are some things I have done and still do with my two children (9 and 4):

  • At some random point during the day, I call them over to me in an excited manner.  (Hurry!  Hurry!  I’ve got something to tell you!)  And I hug them and whisper in their ear: You are so special to Mommy!  Do you know how much I love you?  Sometimes I do this every day.  Sometimes I do it once a week.  But the point is that I do it.  I reassure to my children verbally that I love them.
  • When we are driving somewhere, I reach back and just hold a little warm hand for a small bit.  I reassure to them physically that I love them.
  • At the end of the day I try to make a little time to go to each one in their bedroom.  I lay down beside them and just chit chat with them.  With my son, I ask questions like
  1. Is there anything I could do to be a better mom?
  2. Do you have any questions about anything that happened today?

Both of those questions are very important.  Sometimes he might say,

“I wish you wouldn’t holler at me.” 

This gives me an opportunity to ask his forgiveness and for us to both outline things that we could do better.

Is anyone familiar with the term “ear-hustling”?  That is a prison term for eavesdropping.  Even though your child may not be consciously eavesdropping, he or she will over hear discussions/arguments/gossip that he will have questions about.  Take this opportunity to clear things up and to apologize for any bad behavior on your part and to express to them the importance of always verifying anything they hear and to never repeat personal family conversations to anyone outside of the home.

I am protecting our relationship.  I am feeding it and looking for ways to grow it, to better it.  I am emotionally reassuring my children that I love them and that what they think is important to me.

Today is a new day and presents new opportunities for you to bond with your child.  If your home is a mixed family like ours, then today is going to be the follow up to an emotional weekend.  My son is broken-hearted that his brother had to leave today.  He has enjoyed being a complete family, but our one month as a complete family is up.  Now it’s back to a broken family.  He is going to need extra care for the next few days.  Even though CJ is his half-brother, my son doesn’t know how to love with only half his heart.  He is the kid that stops to smell the roses, even if they are in the outfield.


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