“How do you know that you love me?”
It has been said that children are our greatest teachers, and most often, their primary method of teaching us is by asking questions. Did you know that the average child can ask up to 300 questions per day? Some questions are as simple as “why is the sky blue?” Other thought provoking questions can stop us in our tracks, making us ponder the very meaning of life itself.
A recent talk given by Jose L. Alonso recounted a sweet encounter when a tender question was asked by a young child to his grandmother. The young boy asked, “Do you love me?” “Of course I do!” replied the grandmother. The young boy then inquired “How do you know that you love me?” The grandmother then reminded him of all that she had done and was willing to do for him. She then asked the child the same question. “How do you know that you love me?” To which the child quickly responded,“l know I love you because I feel it inside my heart.” A simple, yet profound answer given by an innocent child, satisfied that he knew it to be true because he had felt it in his heart. I would like to think that both the child and grandmother’s answers are right. Love is a combination of words, actions, and feelings.
The words we speak with our mouths, the actions we do with our hands, and the feelings we feel with our hearts are all equally important in showing love to the children in our lives. Speaking words of love and encouragement may come naturally to some, others through gathering and studying information from the plethora of parenting books available, or for the majority of us through trial and error. (Note to self: yelling out “I love you!” as you drop off your child for the first day of middle school is not advisable.)
Actions are often the day-to-day tasks that we lovingly perform with our hands. Hands that braid hair, make peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, give endless piggy back rides, and underdogs at the park. Hands that pitch ball after ball until our little slugger finally connects. Hands that show love. The feelings we have for the children in our lives are often difficult to put into words. If you’ve ever had the privilege of rocking a newborn baby to sleep, experienced seeing the pride in a child’s eyes as they take their first steps, or witnessed the moment of truth when the training wheels come off, you know what I mean. There will also be times your heart aches—when you learn your child has been eating lunch alone since school started, or tried and tested such as when your 15-year-old admits to taking the family car and running over your mailbox (true story). Your heart will grow and stretch in ways you didn’t imagine were possible.
Children are masters at this golden trifecta of words, actions, and feelings—almost always expressing some form of it. So the next time your child hands you a fistful of dandelions, drowns you in sticky kisses, or hands you a cephalopod drawn in Crayola, soak it all in because that, right there, is the good stuff, that, my friends, is love.
I would invite you to ponder what your answer would be if your child were to ask, “How do you know you love me?”