Monday, February 7, 2011

Love and Other Questions

As Valentine's Day nears and annoyance and anxiety in men across the nation rises, whatever our romantic status, we find ourselves thinking about love. What is it and how do we express it? How important is it to express it in a certain way? What, most importantly, are her or his expectations and how am I ever going to meet them?

Today, I greet my 5 1/2 year old son Bodee at Kindergarten pick up with a twinkle in his eye. He holds a brass colored metal box with the words " Nikki" written in a child's handwriting. Too excited for the formalities of hello hugs and kisses he launches immediately into an explanation of this precious box. Nikki gave it to him to hold, and it has a diamond in it, and she's his friend and he gets to have it until ...ummm May, or next Monday...
I am delighted with his energy and I ask if she gave it to him or is he borrowing it. He clarifies that he is borrowing it until Monday, we think, and he shows me the plastic gem stone and note cards in the box like a special treasure. I comment how nice it was of her to lend it to him and he agrees, "Ya", he says, "she's my friend". I ask if he would like to put something in the box when he returns it to her, to give to her, as a Thank you.
"Ya" he says, perking up even more, the gears begin turning, "What could I put in there?" I ask him what he think sand he says "Ummm well, what do girls like Mom?"
It occurs to me that he is perfectly, simply brilliant.
It is in the not knowing that we create anything.
"That's great that you asked Bodee, (I am guilty of generalizing here, feminists, sue me) girls like pink and pretty things could ask her too... usually they like princesses, flowers, gems and rings and necklaces."
Bodee thinks about the choices carefully. " Let's get her a ring." he chooses.
I have an idea. "Remember that ring that you, or was it Ben...gave me, the pink flower one?"
Bodee says " That was me." reminding me forgivingly.
"That's right! Ok, well, would you like me to give it back to you so you can give it to her?"
He looks at me with serious brown eyes and deep meaning...
"No, that is just for you. You keep it. We can get her one from the machines with those balls in there with 25 cents." He is sure this is what he wants to do
In that moment I get what love is, from my five year old, in a new light.
It is, first of all, excitement, expressing and sharing.
Love is generosity, giving meaningfully, and most importantly, being in the inquiry of what matters to them. The fact that he asked what girls like, that curiosity, will serve him well in the years to come. He could have just decided to put a toy car in the box. But no, he wanted to know what she wants. Beautiful.
If we all just wanted to know what the other wants more...
what a beautiful Valentine's day it would be if we simply asked.

Zen Honeycutt

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