The Language of Love

A long time ago, I was a teacher in a small mountain town.  I taught a multi-age classroom that brought me more challenges and joy than I had ever known.  I became incredibly close with some of those kids, many of whom were my students for multiple years.  There are still a couple who I maintain relationships with.  One happens to be a parent at the cooperative preschool where I do parent education.  This young woman is a young mom, who against all odds is a wonderfully natural mother.  She gets intuitively what many of us work hard to put into practice.  Her little boy just turned 4 and is articulate, engaging, kind and so clearly loved.

Last night I lead a Parent Education Night for the parents of the coop preschool.  One of the activities I lead is called "The Language of Love."  I invite the parents to think back to their childhood and remember one adult in their life that really let them know they mattered deeply.  I give everyone a few minutes to think about this person, then I ask them to share the things that person did or said that left them with the feeling that they mattered.

People spoke up in no particular order.  "My grandmother always welcomed me, she was who I would go home to after school..."  "My parents always said I love you, even as we got older..."  "My dad took me fishing early in the morning, he shared his passion with me..."  "They were always there to listen..." This is a really powerful activity.  It is amazing to see the emotion well up as parents think back to those people who really made a difference in their life.

We finally got around to the young lady who is my former student.  She looked right at me and said, "My special person took me away from the fears and the flaws of my family and showed me something different."  My heart caught in my throat and I knew she was talking about me.  I could barely write the words down on the paper...  It made me feel so proud, so overwhelmed, to know that the relationship that I had with her had given her the belief that she mattered deeply to me.  She was a child I cared about.  I saw something great inside of her and knew she would grow to do amazing things.

We may never know how our smile, our attention, our interest in a child will effect them.  We may never become aware of the respite we give someone else by showing them through word and deed that they matter to us.  And when you think back to those people who opened their arms to you, cared about you deeply, be sure to reach out and let them know what a difference they made in your life.  And continue to connect with children, your own and other's, you may just be giving them a new lens to see the world through.