From Chicken Soup for the Mother of Preschooler's Soul

The Little Things

Cherishing children is the mark of a civilized society.

Joan Ganz Cooney

My redheaded sons, Tyler and Sam, were making the morning’s rush unmanageable. Even more hectic than usual.

No one had gotten any sleep the night before because two-year-old Sam had been sick. My husband would take Sam to the doctor, so I hustled out the door with Tyler, running late. I couldn’t wait to escape to work.

“I love you, Mommy. Have a good day at school.” Still clad in his cuddly pajamas, a sweetly smiling Sam waved a chubby hand . . . and nearly broke my heart. I ran back through the garage and gave him a big hug and told him Mommy loved him, too.

As a special-education director, I confer with parents, test students with disabilities and decide what is best educationally. On this same day, I was meeting with the teacher at the State School for the Severely Handicapped and the parents of a child in our district. The agenda concerned a list—a lengthy list—of skills I felt the state school should address with this child in mind.

As the meeting progressed, the teacher questioned the parents. “What if there was only one thing that we could teach your child this year? What would be the single, most important thing you’d want your child to learn?”

“There are many things that we feel need to be addressed,” said the dad. I nodded my head in full agreement. “But if we could only pick one thing . . .” he exchanged a long look with his wife, “we’d want our child to learn to sign ‘I love you.’”

He went on to explain, “We have had six years of struggles and setbacks. Never, ever has our child been able to communicate ‘I love you.’ Right now that is what’s most important to us.”

I sat there, humbled. Three little words. The same words I took so for granted that very morning. And these parents had never heard them from their child.

Suddenly, my hectic mornings, sleepless nights and boisterous boys were a real blessing. Three little words . . . I love you . . . were mine for the taking, mine for the listening. Thank goodness I’d listened that morning.

Amy Krause

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