I've heard it said that kids spell "Love" T-I-M-E. But I've been hearing my kids spell this word differently lately. I don't think "love" is spelled one and only one way. Follow along as I crack the kid code for how to spell this wonderful word:
1. "Hey Dad, w-a-t-c-h this!" That's right, kids spell "love" w-a-t-c-h. Think about it... "Hey Dad, love this!" I don't know about your kids, but when mine shout out this declaration, they're asking me to approve of them, enjoy them, thrill with them, be pleased by them. Whether it's Becca playing me her latest piano or violin song, or Andy showing me how high he can jump off the ottoman, when my kids ask me to watch them, they're secretly asking me to love them.
This makes a lot of sense to me, too. After all, can we really love something we don't pay attention to? If I never w-a-t-c-h-e-d the Pittsburgh Steelers play football, or the Detroit Red Wings play hockey, could I really love them? If I never watched my wife going about her motherly routines at home, or when she is quietly sleeping next to me, I would miss so many of the things that remind me how much I love her.
Yeah, w-a-t-c-h definitely is a code word for l-o-v-e.
2. "Dad, will you p-l-a-y with me?" This one is clever, because it's so close to what we grown-ups recognize as the other way kids spell "love." After all, when a child invites you to play with him, isn't he asking you to spend some quality time with him? You can't play if you're not spending time together. But I'm convinced that p-l-a-y also is, indeed, another code word for l-o-v-e, as in "Dad, will you love with me?"
In my case, each week when Thursday rolls around, Andy knows it's my Day Off, and to him, that means he gets to play with his Dad. He wants to play Cars, Thomas the Train, Webkinz, and maybe even wrestle or play a game we affectionately refer to as "Rotten Egg." And after a morning of p-l-a-y-i-n-g with his Dad, Andy is ready to cuddle up and take his nap as I l-o-v-e on him with naptime hugs.
Research supports this hunch of mine, too. Relationship experts tell us that couples with mutual hobbies and interests - whether it's downhill skiing, Sudukos, cooking, gardening, or running marathons together - report having higher levels of marital satisfaction through the years.
I guess the old adage is true: "The family that plays together, stays together."
3. "Dad, can I t-a-l-k to you about something?" When a parent hears the word talk, it should set off the "love meter" because we rarely get a more obvious moment to show our love to our children than when they're talking about what's going on in their lives. And we have to remember that preschool concerns about a classmate who won't share the Legos are just as vital as high school concerns about whether or not anyone will go to prom with you.
My wife Cathy does an excellent job cracking this part of the kid code. She knows our kids very well and they both know that they have open access to their mom. She will t-a-l-k/l-o-v-e with them about anything that's on their minds, and whatever is being talked about is the most important thing in the world to Cathy at that moment. I could learn a few things from my wife on this one.
Now here's another cool thing about cracking the kid code: each of us asks God, our Heavenly Father, to l-o-v-e us in the exact same way as my kids do in the above examples.
1. We want God to pay attention to us when we come to Him, and scripture assures us that He does:
"Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you" (1 Peter 5:7, NIV).
"For the LORD watches over the way of the righteous" (Psalm 1:6, NIV).
2. We want a God who can play with us, not one who is harsh and distant. Again, the bible is very clear that God knows this is one of the ways we need Him to love us:
"The LORD your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing" (Zephaniah 3:17, NIV)
3. We want a God we can talk to. Prayer is wasted time and energy if God isn't actively involved on the other end of it:
"When you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you" (Matthew 6:6, NIV).
"Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you" (Matthew 7:7, NIV).
So, am I missing any other code words kids use for love? Email me or share your thoughts in the comments section!
Grace and peace to you,