My oldest is just 5 — but he has already begun to enjoy hearing stories of the day he was born.
He likes to hear what we were doing and how we celebrated — who was there and what his first moments were like. How I ate Popsicles and watched the movie Elf. How his grandparents and auntie and friends were nearby to meet him just hours after he was born. How, like the lyrical prose says in children’s book On the Night You Were Born: “The moon smiled with such wonder that the stars peeked in to see you and the night wind whispered, ‘Life will never be the same’ because there had never been anyone like you — ever in the world.”
He likes to know where he has been, what he has done — and what he is capable of doing. He likes for me to tell him about him. And that is very natural, I think.
It’s so important to tell that love story. To say as Aibileen the maid from The Help said to the child in her care: ‘You is kind. You is smart. You is important.’ I think everyone needs to hear that. To know that. It becomes part of us in our childhood and whispers the truth in our ears throughout life whenever anyone or anything else challenges it. It doesn’t mean the world revolves around us, but it does mean that we have great purpose in this world.
A couple of nights ago, I was reading Little Bear with my boy before bed and it reminded me of this very thing:
“What kind of story would you like to hear?” said Mother Bear.
“Tell me about me,” said Little Bear. “Tell me about things I once did.”
“Well,” said Mother Bear, “once you played in the snow, and you wanted something to put on.”
“Oh yes, that was fun,” said Little Bear. “Tell me something more about me.”
“Well,” said Mother Bear,” once you put on your space helmet and played going to the moon.”
“That was fun, too,” said Little Bear. “Tell me more about me.”
“Well,” said Mother Bear, “once you thought you had no Birthday Cake so you made Birthday Soup.”
“Oh, that was fun,” said Little Bear. “And then you came with the cake. You always make me happy.”
When we finished reading the story, I tucked in my boy and told him about him — that he makes me happy. That I love him. That he’s a great big brother.
And as he continues to figure out who he is and where he fits in this world, I want those words to stand out. Words that respond to “Tell me about me” with a simple truth:
You are loved.
“It is very important that children learn from their fathers and mothers how to love one another — not in the school, not from the teacher, but from you. It is very important that you share with your children the joy of that smile. There will be misunderstandings; every family has its cross, its suffering. Always be the first to forgive with a smile. Be cheerful, be happy.” Mother Teresa