February is a month we think of those we love. Love is expressed in so many ways: a hug, a kiss, a kind word, a smile and the list goes on. Each day we have many opportunities to show people how special they are to us. From the way we greet our family in the morning to the way we respond to the not-so-friendly neighbor, we are modeling love to our children. They will learn a lot about love and kindness by watching how we respond to them, and others, during the day. They will also learn about forgiveness, patience, understanding, relationships and conflict resolutions. We are not perfect, and as hard as we try, we do not always show the “best” to our children. But this is a perfect opportunity to model how we respond to those we love, or those we have relationships with, when we haven’t reacted in a kind or appropriate manner. Some-times how we make amends is a better model of love than our hugs and kisses.
After a hard day we are not as fresh as we were in the morning, or for some of you, who are not morning people, evening may be the best time of day for you. Whenever you are running low on those warm-fuzzies try to give your children a clue that this may not be a good time for you. I used to look at the boys and say, “look at this face, do you think this is a good time for this?!” As they get older you can use humor to release the tension and maybe get a laugh out of the situation. I was on the phone with my sister-in-law when her son (now 20) was having a playdate. I was reminded that timing is everything. She was at her wits end, the children (Joshua, then 5, his friend, Brandon, and the 2 year old brother, Carson) had returned to the house covered in mud (again), she would have to change their clothes (again), she would have to mop the kitchen floor (again), and she would have to wash them and their clothes (again)! As she was talking to me I could hear little Carson talking to her about what she had for him to wear. His sweet little voice brought back the images of chubby little people who used to bring dirt, mud and assorted other “fun” into my life. I would have given anything to be sitting in her kitchen cuddling with that little two year old or better yet sitting outside watching them giggle and laugh as they played in the mud.
Of course, 30 years ago when my little cherubs were riding bikes through the “hugest” puddle in the campground, in the only clean clothes left in our cabin, after a week of non-stop rain and after I had told them “absolutely no more riding through that puddle!” I wasn’t in such a warm and fuzzy mood! Like I said timing is everything!
Just remember that the day will soon be over but the lessons they learn will be theirs forever. Teach them love, compassion, humor, and let them know you will always be there for them and, remember, these memories of toddler-hood and preschool will always be there for you.
There are many ways you can show love to your children and in that expression of love they will feel honored and special. My guys loved it when we left little surprises at the end of a “treasure hunt” around the house, story books with pictures of them as the main character, allowing them to make the menu for the evening meal and then eating whatever is on their menu and sitting around the table listening as they shared about their day. We had special adult friends that also showed them they were important. The friendships with those adults are still in place to this day. It is important to have adults in their lives that are not “the parents”. Grandparents, aunts/uncles, family friends can be there for your child when they need to bounce ideas off someone but they don’t want it to their parent. Joel will still tell Aunt Elysia things that he will not tell us. These adults can say the same thing that Mom and Dad say but it somehow is different coming from them. I cherish the times I have with the “kids” in my life that are my friend’s children and the conversation we can have because I have known them all of their life.
Take time to show the people in your life how special they are to you. Cherish the time you have with these children and remember what a blessing these little people in our lives!