In response to one of my 365 Letters, I recently had the pleasure of receiving a letter back. This bit of correspondence was from my nephew Malcolm.
Now, because he is only three years old, I assume that one of his parents did the actual handwriting portion; but it was clear from the contents of the letter that he had dictated the words himself.
Below is some insight that I gained from reading my nephew's letter:
No Sloppy Kisses
Since I have the cutest nephew in the world, I love to show him affection. Apparently, however, there has been a bit of personal space invasion on my end. And I quote:
"I like your hugs, but I don' like your sloppy kisses. Just nice ones."
While we may not agree on the nature of my kisses, the point is that I need to love Malcolm in a way that he can receive. Rather than cram my love down his throat, I need to be respectful of his needs and only sneak in auntie kisses every so often.
One specific mention Malcolm made was looking forward to a sleepover at my house. This tells me how important special surprises are for little ones. It reminds me that adults need to schedule special events on their calendar as well. We all need something to look forward to, to hope for, to get us through long days and difficult work weeks.
Special Note: Malcolm and I did have our sleepover last week, and it was a grand success.
The last point in Malcolm's letter was to thank me for jelly beans. The first round of jelly beans I gave him was for Easter last year. I'm not sure if this was the first time he'd ever eaten them, but ever since then, jelly beans have been our special treat.
Even though this may not seem like a big deal to me, I'm reminded that kids appreciate special traditions. When I was little, one of my favorite treats was Peanut Buster Parfaits that my dad got me from Dairy Queen. Whether a pile of jelly beans or an ice cream sundae, children show me that simple gifts can be the most precious.
Watching the news, we see a world that devalues children. We hear stories of abuse and neglect that make us shudder. This leads me to look at me own life and ask:
How do I honor the little ones in my own community?
One way I'm releasing love and respect to my youngest friends is by including them in my list of letter recipients. Granted, due to their short attention span and smaller vocabulary, these are shorter letters than those addressed to my adult friends. But as I write, I want to communicate that I value them.
While adults may feel that children benefit from us, we are, indeed, the ones who are better because of them.