In one of the myriad audiobooks my boys have been ingesting over the last months, there is a recurring joke about the “L word.” As in, a kid who refuses to say he “loves” something, because, apparently, “love is for girls.” (This enraged me the first time I heard it, too. But the stories never let it just stay there.)
My boys now tease each other when one of them says the L word, but it is in good fun. And thankfully, the thing about it only being for girls seems to have gone in one ear and out the other.
My eldest, now from the height of his six years, has never been a snuggly type, not even when he was tiny. But he does, from time to time say, “I love you, Mamacakes.” Never in earshot of others, so I have no one to confirm he does this, but I L-word that little intimacy so much.
So imagine my surprise when I went to his class on Thanksgiving Day to do a craft and tell a story, and when I stood up in front of the class to begin, he heckled me! That scalawag! There was so much noise in that first moment that I almost didn’t understand what he said. As the din died down, he heckled me again with a glorious, impish grin. “L word!” he shouted.
I had no idea how to respond without embarrassing him, so I just nodded, and said, “Thank you, Mr. Fields.” It was our little secret.
My youngest scalawag is a snugglepuss. Several times a day, he will call out to me. “Mom? Mom? Mom?” Me, every time falling in the trap, will respond somewhat urgently. His urgent message is always, “I love you.”
Yeah, we’re ooey gooey like that.
But let me introduce you to the reason why we are like that:
This human, seen here wearing his birthday shirt that you and I wrapped together so carefully using the furoshiki method a few weeks ago, is the reason we all talk so liberally about the “L word.”
He has many names in our house. I call him Mr. Shoosh, or, at times, just Shoosh. I think it comes from our first year of being married and we called each other chouchou, which is a sweet little name in French to denote one’s favorite person. It got shortened to Shoosh and has stuck. I still call him Chéri (my dear) in more public settings. Sometimes I will call him my love. The name he gets called most often, though, is Dada.
This gentleman right here is the reason why my family loves to use the L word. You see, when one of the boys does something whacky, instead of saying, “What are you doing?”, he says, laughing, “I love you.” When my littlest scalawag put his clothes on backwards (this is systematic when this child dresses himself!) Shoosh will say, “I love you,” as he helps him flip his t-shirt around.
When the big scalawag will build a Lego vehicle and want to show it off, Shoosh’s first comment is never, “wow, what a cool Lego vehicle,” it is always, “I love you.”
It is Shoosh, now my indulgent husband, who twenty-five years ago when I met him, marked my soul by saying about nearly everything, “c’est beau”…meaning, “It’s lovely,” or “It’s nice…” He started nearly all of his sentences with, “It’s nice that you like scrambled eggs for breakfast.” or “It’s lovely to walk to town instead of taking the bus.”
I had never met someone with such an innocent enthusiasm. It made me feel like everything I said was interesting. The amazing thing is that he isn’t just like that with me. He is like that with everyone. I’m just the lucky girl who he comes home to at night.
And, by extension, my boys are the lucky fellas he comes home to every night, and who get to hear, before hearing anything else about how cool their drawing is, or how great it is that the little fella dressed himself, they get to hear, “I love you.”
So, to round out my Thankfulness Week, I am going to get a little mushy and say that I am thankful for my very own ambulant L word.