Recently, my 6-year-old was upset with me. “I HATE you!” he screamed from the backseat of the van, furious about…I don’t even remember now. Something very relevant to his life, I’m sure, but not serious enough to merit that. I’ve learned over time, however, to not take these words too seriously, even though I don’t enjoy hearing them. I know he’s really saying, “I’m mad at you,” or, “I’m frustrated about…” or, “This doesn’t seem fair to me and I’m angry about it.” And so I try to help him rephrase his words by listing some of the above alternatives.
“I want you to feel what you’re feeling. But when you say you hate me, you are saying you wish I wasn’t in your life,” I added the other day.
“Well, if you weren’t in my life…who would pick out my clothes in the morning?” he asked.
I thought it was interesting that, of all the things I do for him in a given day, this act seems to rank the highest. It’s true that I make sure his clothes are laid out every morning, even if I don’t remember until midnight. I don’t always do the same for his older siblings, but he’s in kindergarten so he’s got a free pass on picking out morning clothes — for now anyway. How nice he’s noticed, I thought. It makes the extra efforts worthwhile knowing they’re appreciated.
That got me wondering what the rest of my family most appreciates about me. What is one thing they would miss most if I weren’t here? I suppose losing some special to cancer recently has got me thinking about these things even more than usual. It’s not that I need an ego boost, but I am curious what attribute of mine my family members most value and would miss if I was no longer accessible, even if for a little while. So I phrased it in a way that wouldn’t cause them too much worry and will record their replies:
Nicholas, 3: “Your skin.”
Elizabeth, 8: “Your smile.”
Olivia, 11: “Your writing.”
Christian, 13: (pause….pause…pause…) “All your great cooking.” (He seemed hard-pressed for an answer and I think this one came to mind as the thing he felt he ought to say, not necessarily what he means.)
Troy, 40: “Your brown eyes.”
It’s only fair I reciprocate, I think. So, here are my “what I would miss about you” answers:
Adam: Your interesting mind.
Nicholas: Your awesome facial expressions.
Elizabeth: Your gentle, revealing smile.
Olivia: Your compassionate nature.
Christian: Your comedic ways.
Troy: Your fun sense of humor.
It’s hard coming up with just one thing. Another of many things I’d miss: my kids’ creations, from the cool computer features my oldest son figures out how to access and shares with me to the art projects of the youngest. Here’s one that recently came home in the backpack of my 8-year-old. It was part of a Nativity scene made piece by piece by her class. Her assignment was to make Baby Jesus:
Wishing you a week of few tears. But if they must come, I hope they are healthy, cleansing tears — the kind that rinse the soul to make room for something new and hopeful.