Way back in the old days (when you got up to change the channel on the television and asked for directions at the local gas station), I found out my wife at the time was expecting a child. One of the first presents I ever remember her getting was the book, “What to Expect When You’re Expecting.” I’m pretty sure that book still exists and women still get it early in their pregnancy.
While I never read it myself, I did skim it, then watched and learned. As I observed, I saw there were all kinds of tips, ideas, concepts and everything you need to know about pregnancy and upcoming childbirth. A section followed that shared information about what your child will do at three months, six months, a year old, etc.
What they never told you – probably because they knew you wouldn’t be ready for it – was that all kids are different. The authors also never seemed to fess up and be honest about the stages of a growing child as they enter the teen years and their twenties. It’s a conspiracy.
The tricks that worked so well on child number one or even on number two don’t seem to play out with the third one. No matter how many books you read, you are never fully prepared for those specific personality traits that make a child so different from their siblings. Ultimately, we love our children the best we can, do the best we can for them, throw our hands up, and then hope for the best. Anyone who says they do much more is probably not being completely honest with you.
Recently, when thinking about how much I love my children, I reflected on the humorous and completely different exchanges that I frequently seem to have with them. Then, like any humorous situation that happens to me, I told my friends. When I realized they all laughed out loud (today, “LOL”), it hit me this might just be a thought to share with each of you.
I tell my children I love them on a regular basis. I want them to hear it, know it, and experience it.
What the books didn’t print and share with me was the lifecycle of responses from them. To my 25 year old son, Dan, I say, “I love you” and he replies, “I love you too, Dad.” When I tell my 17 year old daughter, Maddy, “I love you,” she answers, “Thanks, Dad.” The best is when I tell my 12 year old son, Tee, that I love him. I get a half smile and a grunt as a response. Not a mean one, but a baseline acknowledgement one.
I smile—no matter what response I get, because I know it is all part of a cycle they are going through as their personalities grow and develop.
Although I’m looking forward to their next stages, I’m enjoying being with them right where they are.
For this and other great stories, pick up the March issue of Bella Magazine!