The last Saturday of my children’s holiday break, I was tired. We were home following a ski trip that we left for the day after Christmas and returned late that Friday night just before the clock stuck 12 for the New Year. Still running on mountain time, my nine-year-old was nowhere near ready for bed when I was ready to crash.
When we discussed our different energy levels and sleep needs that night, he suggested that I should go to bed and he would play in his room with his new Christmas toys until he was tired enough to fall asleep. He had this gleam in his eye and a slight smile that told me he was super excited about this plan. He’s never gotten to stay up past mom before. He had newfound freedom, and he could not get me tucked into bed fast enough.
I was a little nervous about his plans, given his level of excitement. However, my teen son was still awake, and I knew he would long outlast the nine-year-old, so I was pretty confident the house would remain standing.
He put me to bed and said he would only stay up until 4 am. About 1 am, I felt him crawl on the other side of my bed and quickly fall asleep. He thought he was being sneaky, and this might have been his big plan all along. After all, my bed is his favorite place to hang out, eat, chat with friends, do school during Covid, etc. I think I have made it too comfy, and he is always trying to take it over.
The following day when I woke up way before anyone else, I was slightly annoyed to find all the lights in the house left on. We had a conversation the night before about turning off the lights before going to bed, which is an ongoing conversation I keep having with my teens.
As I was making my coffee, I found a note by the sink in adorable nine-year-old handwriting that said he had done all the dishes because mom is awesome. Since October, our dishwasher has been out of order, waiting for KitchenAid to honor their warranty and fix it. So, mom has been doing a lot of dishes the last few months. Helping mom was what his sneaky smile was all about and how he spent the couple hours he got to stay up past mom.
His kind act of service spoke to my heart. My nine-year-old is fully aware of his mom’s love language, and what a great reminder at the New Year how important it is to connect with the people we love in a meaningful way to them. It’s true that when you do things that speak to someone’s love language, it fills them up with happiness and gratitude.
A few years ago, I read the books The 5 Love Languages of Children and The 5 Love Languages of Teenagers by Gary Chapman. When I started connecting to my children through their love language, I noticed a change in each of them. I took time to say I see you and you are important. They were filled with love and seemed happier. They became more agreeable, and we had fewer discipline issues. I made it a goal to do something that speaks to their love language every day. Sometimes all it takes is a text or a few words of affirmation before they walk out the door to face the world. I will make it part of my New Year’s goals to reread this book and again commit to connecting with the people I love the most. Chapman’s, The 5 Love Languages that refers to adult relationships is also a good read.