Jay is having a bit of a rough day. I’m pretty sure he’s just tired so I’ve already decided to put him to bed early that evening. He gets himself a bag of Cheetos and curls up in my bed. I ask him if I can get one and he hugs the bag closely and lets me know that I cannot have one as they are for him and him alone.
Ace giggles and Jay gets mad. He wants us to know that he is not playing. He really has no intention of giving me a cheese curl. IT’S NOT HAPPENING!.
I lay down beside him, close my eyes and stick my tongue out. That’s how we pretend to be dead. Ace says “Oh no! Mom died of hunger.”
I feel something salty touch my lips. I open one eye ever so slightly and Jay is hovering over me – and even though he doesn’t want to – he is offering me a cheese curl. And showing me his love.
After I eat that one (and “revive” myself) he slips in under my arm so I am hugging him and he alternately eats one then feeds me one. We are quiet. No talking. Most often, that is what my baby boy prefers. In the middle of our “dinner”, he stops eating and gives me a little nudge and says “Ace gets chicken and rice.” He needed us all to have satisfied bellies.
Love is a verb. It takes action. Love is SHOWN. Jay doesn’t (ever really) initiate saying the words “I love you” but there’s no doubt, he LOVES!
I happen to be walking down the hallway when I see Ace hurriedly emerge from the bathroom and close the door. We make eye-contact so he explains. “Jay doesn’t like the sound of the toilet, so when I flushed, I closed the door fast so it’s not so loud for him.”
I am lost for words. This is a show of love. I stand there staring at him and upon realizing that he has my full attention, he climbs up onto the arm of the couch and launches himself into my arms. He’s not tiny or light anymore. “I just want to be nice to him” he continues, “Does that make you happy?”
It really does.
I kiss my first born child and I hug him and I tickle him and I spin him around and I tell him how incredibly sweet he is. THIS is what he likes. THIS is how he likes to receive love. Big and loud and mushy and sappy.
I remember being around Ace’s age and going on a family vacation to Canada. I was living in Jamaica with my Grandparents then so obviously I had a Jamaican accent. There was a little girl who lived next door to the family we were visiting and every time she came over to play with me she made fun of me and the way I spoke. Every time I opened my mouth she would tell me that I sounded weird and she’d laugh. Most of the neighbourhood kids would follow her lead. But there was one. The one that I was the most fond of. One little girl who eventually said “The way she talks is different, but it’s not weird.”
I’ve never forgotten her.
Love is shown and received in different ways. For some it’s a quiet sharing. For some it’s loud and irreverent. Both are GOOD! Different is not bad or weird. It’s just that. Different. I think it’s important that we not only give love to people in a way that is meaningful to them but that we also recognize when someone is giving us love.