Both my husband and I were raised in loving homes. But neither of us grew up hearing “I love you” from our dads.
In my case, because Japanese parents just don’t say “I love you”. In my husband’s case, though I am sure his Dad loved him very much, it just wasn’t communicated verbally.
We shower CC with “I love you’s”.
It is my great delight that his first words reflect who we are.
One of the first words he ever said and he’s been saying this a while; is “Hi”. You know, we are a friendly folk…He is very friendly (thus his nickname, well, one of many, “The Mayor”). He goes around saying “Haaaaa~i!”, waving to people at the grocery store, restaurant, church…everywhere.
And he says “tank-u” (thank you). And the pièce de résistance! “Ay-ya-u”. It is his way of saying “I love you”.
CC gets lots of kisses, hugs and “I love you”s. In fact, ever since he was days old, I have done baby massage saying “I luuuuv youuuuuuuuu~”. So, I suppose it was easy for him to learn to show affection. I have been getting slobbery, giggly kisses and Daddy has been getting tap, tap, tap on his shoulder meaning “I love you” for quite a while. But the other night, IT happened.
Me: Tell Daddy good night, CC.
Kip: I love you, CC, sleep tight, see you in the morning!
CC: Ay-ya-u, Dadde’ee
I was stunned. He is just 13 months today. And in the last couple of weeks his vocabulary has grown, but this?!
Plus, the next day, CC and I went out to the drive way to say hello to Daddy as he pulled in. As soon as he sees Kip’s car, he starts giggling and shrieking with delight. He claps his hands. Daddy comes out. CC reaches out to Daddy wanting to be held. Kip holds him. CC puts his arms around Daddy’s neck and rests his head on Daddy’s shoulder. Then he lightly, gently taps Daddy’s back.
It was so beautiful. It was “I love you, I missed you, but I’m here with you”. He gently continues to tap Daddy’s back, because that’s what Daddy does for him, every time.
He knows. He knows how much he is loved. He does not need to ask me “does Daddy love me?” We pray we are able to assure him of our love this way until his teen age years.
While CC’s ability to show his love for us melts our hearts, I think of the children growing up in neglected and worse yet, abusive situations, in homes and institutions here in the US and overseas. Some of them are so neglected that they do not know how to receive love. My heart aches for Moms and Dads who adopted children who were formerly so neglected that they have sensory processing disorder, meaning, they cannot enjoy kisses, hugs and touching (I’m over simplifying) because it is too overwhelming. The parents have to slowly help them through theraplay and such. Instinctively I hold children. I lavish my love for them in holding them, putting them on my laps…yet if my child had sensory issues, my loving on them that way would be tormenting to them. Then longer the children without loving family stay in those situations the more complicated their ability to receive love and their future will be.
Lord, help us to continue to lavish love on CC, the way You lavish your love upon us. And I pray that CC will be able to pour his love and kindness on others. I pray that the Body of Christ to be Your tangible arms to hold neglected and marginalized children, and be earthly fathers and mothers that will raise them with Your love.
All the children, not just CC, are the apples of the Lord’s eye. (Deuteronomy 32:10) He is a Father to the fatherless, a defender of widows. He sets the lonely in families, he leads forth the prisoners with singing. (Psalm 68:5-6)