When I was a kid, we didn't talk about love a lot. I knew I was loved, because my parents showed me, but we weren't in the habit of saying it very often. I remember being in eighth grade and standing by a pay phone with another girl on the drill team. She called her mom to tell her that practice was over and before she hung up the phone she said, "I love you, too." I remember thinking how nice that would be, hearing I was loved in such an ordinary way. My parents and siblings and I have all gotten a lot better about telling each other in adulthood.
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Even if love is obvious, it still needs to be expressed. Better said than sorry. So now that I have a family of my own, I think about that moment by the pay phone and make a conscious choice to say "I love you" several times a day. The fact that I made a family with a Latin Man just amps that up even more.
The other night at dinner, I decided to ask the kids about all this "love" we talk about so much. Our kids are Victoria (14), Vivi (6), and Carlos (3) so we run the gamut of middle school romance right down to toddler slobbery kisses.
Question 1: What does it mean to love someone?
I asked them, "So what does it mean to love someone?" Vivi acted out giving someone a big hug. "It means you want to hug them and squeeze them and always be near them!"
Victoria considered the question for a moment then said, "It means you want them to be happy, that you want to do things that make them happy?"
"Even if they say, 'Hey, crack makes me happy. Will you get me some crack?'" I asked.
"Oh yeah," she said, "Not bad things. Only good things." We talked about how some people get caught up in that problem of wanting the people they love to be happy, but the people they love are making destructive choices. Yeah, that's what happens when you have a middle school kid--every conversation ends up turning into an after-school special kind of serious conversation.
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To lighten the mood, I turned to Carlos and said, "What does it mean to love someone?" He held up a carrot and said, very earnestly, "Carrot." We all laughed, then G and I turned it into A Teachable Moment (because we are sooooo grownup and stuff). I said, "Well, I think that's what it means to love someone--to want them to flourish, to be happy and healthy and whole." G added that the love we parents feel for our kids sums it all up--we will do whatever it takes to tend to them and help them become solid people.