Wednesday, March 22, 2017

"I Actually Love You The Same"





I had known the boy for two years. He didn't want his mom to leave, although she had left him at school hundreds of time before. He stood at the top of the stairs at the schoolyard gate, yelling after her, crying through the slats, saying, "Come back! I want to go with you!"

I sat beside him as he yelled. I said, "You want your mom to come back."

"Yes, I want her to come back." He cried and yelled some more.

"I think she has some things she has to do."

"She does," he answered. We had both heard her tell him that she had an appointment as she walked away. He cried and yelled some more.


When this happens with younger, less experienced children, I remind them of when mom will come back, but I knew that he already knew this. Instead, I said something else that was true, "I wish your mom would come back."

"Me too," he replied. He cried and yelled some more.

"I'm going to miss her."

"Me too," he replied.

"I wonder why."

"Because I love her."

"I love my mommy, too."

He started to cry and yell again, then stopped to tell me, "And I love my daddy."

I nodded, trying to wordlessly convey the idea that I was right there with him.


He was looking at me, tears still hanging from his lower lids, fingers still curled through the gate slats. He was thinking something through. Finally, he said, "I love you, too . . . " as if wanting to make sure I didn't feel left out.

I answered, "I love you," a little too eagerly, I guess, because he hadn't finished his thought.

". . . but not as much as Mommy or Daddy." Then he stopped again, perhaps taking a moment to absorb what I'd said on top of his words. In any case, after a moment, he let go of the gate and stepped toward me, "I actually love you the same." He didn't want me to feel unloved.

I said, "I'd like to play a story with you."

And he answered, "Me too."



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3 comments:

Suzanne Schlechte said...

That was such a sweet story. So glad you chose to share it.

Deborah Vilas said...

The power of empathy knows no bounds. You were an active witness for this child. Whatever reason he needed his mother so badly this day, you validated without judgement or trying to change his mind. You let him. E, but you didn't let him be alone.

Allison said...

This. This is so perfect. Too often I see kids' feelings ignored. Often all they need to see is that someone "gets" it.

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