Monday, October 20, 2014

Love Language

Blah, blah, blah
Years ago, my brother and sister-in-law (who have no idea they would be opening up this post - Hi!  You're both great people...and so attractive! Love you!) went to a marriage retreat.  It's something the Army has done before: sponsor a weekend where couples can take a look at just being a couple outside of the constant day-to-day stuff that often gets in the way of that view.  When they came back, my sister-in-law was telling me about the concept of "love languages."  Apparently, Gary Chapman feels that there are five different kinds of love languages ranging from gifts to quality time.  Every person receives and sends out love in a different manner; they speak a different love language.  If you have two people in a relationship that speak different love languages then you'll need to work at figuring out how that translates so one or both people don't feel neglected or under-appreciated.  Amy and I agreed that we're simple enough to please: a Diet Pepsi (if we're drinking pop at the time), and US Weekly, and an hour of quiet time with no one asking us to do anything, go anywhere, or having to dote on anyone.  This is apparently the equivalent to a love language message in a bottle, and it's still adrift on an ocean of "life as an adult."  I suppose those are the breaks.  And yet, we know we are loved.

When Sweet Girl's language development came to a screeching halt, one of the things that bothered me most was that she wouldn't understand me.  As a lover of words, and puns, and all things bookish, I ached to share that with my child and beyond that there are bigger problems with a lack of language.  There's safety issues there of course, but more to the point how would she know that I loved her if she didn't understand the words coming out of my mouth?  Then also, selfishly, as a mother, I sure would love to hear those words returned to me.  This was the first and probably biggest scar for my arthritic heart.  How would I be able to instill a sense of pervading acceptance, security, and appreciation to this precious soul I was given?  Without the words I rely upon, how would my love reach her?

Tonight I watched a young man skip from his car to the door of the building where Sweet Girl has speech therapy.  He was holding his iPad in the crux of one arm while he reached his other hand out to his mother.  I've seen them before.  They're part of my waiting room team.  They have a time slot directly after Sweet Girl's and so once a week, we share 3-7 minutes of common space.  I do not know their names.  I do not know for certain how old the young man is.  I have no idea where they live.  I do not know for certain why the young man requires speech therapy.  But I have seen, time and time again and with no more perfect clarity than what I witnessed tonight, that they love one another.  Skipping in the parking lot has long since been socially acceptable for this young man.  His clothes have a tendency to be soft textured and comfortable with little regard to matching hues.  I have heard him speak and his speech is difficult to understand; his articulation and intonation making it a challenge to comprehend his message.  His mother, on the other hand, is the antithesis of all of this.  The word polished is more than appropriate: she wears suits and heels; hair coiffed, muted but intentional make-up; articulate in person and on the phone.  I am sure that words have been difficult for them to share over the years.  But tonight, when the young man was skipping and he held out his hand to his polished and poised mother, she took it and skipped with him to the door.  I watched while I buckled seat belts and found the appropriate lollipop for the appropriate child, and both of them were not just happy but joyful.  I know without having to share one other word with them, that they know their own love language.  For the rest of the world, it may not seem like enough but for them it is.

I love this picture.
I've talked before about the waiting rooms in which I sit.  There are so many wonderful people there with wonderful children and teenagers (I know: wonderful and teenager seem oxymoronic, but it happens from time to time).  Not everything is wonderful all the time, of course.  These are human beings with their fair share of human moments.  But sitting with people who are living out other - not yet enlightened or aware of their lack of enlightenment - people's worst case scenario, has helped me recognize all kinds of love languages.  I have seen, and participated in, a wide variety of You Be You Because That Is More Than Good Enough For Me dances in these waiting rooms.  Sweet Girl went through a phase where she felt compelled to pass out the informational brochure to all in the waiting room.  I asked the receptionist if she minded that they be passed out if I retrieved them later and she politely told me they were there to BE passed out.  So for four weeks straight, Sweet Girl passed out brochures and I high-fived her socialization.  Then I picked up the brochures and put them back at the front desk when Sweet Girl had gone back to the therapy rooms.  There was not a person in that waiting room who knew us by name.  They did not know why we were there.  They did not know that Sweet Girl was timidly, in her own way, growing and reaching out of her comfort zone.  And there was not a person there who ever refused her brochure.  People know a love language when they see it.  For Sweet Girl and me, it's taking turns singing, tickles, My Little Pony dialogue, new apps for the iPad, letting her mix the pancake batter, gfcf chocolate-covered doughnuts once a week, and realistically high expectations with many, many hugs and back scratches.  And the words...she has those words.  Though for someone who struggles mightily with talking, she is more likely to use other parts of our love language to communicate.  And I don't worry anymore.  "I love you" is just three little words; Sweet Girl and I have our own language.

1 comment:

  1. I was thinking of the actions of love today. We watched several Dreamflight groups in Magic Kingdom . They were easily identifiable by their blue shirts. The adults wore yellow tights and white tutus with their shirts--even the men. And it was done matter-of-factly and nonchalantly. The adults were there for the kids--pushing chairs, transporting kids in slings from chairs to rides. It was warmish & ride loading was time-consuming. And still it was handled matter-of-factly & nonchalantly.

    ReplyDelete