We have a few rules we try to instill in our kids. One is to be respectful, especially to adults. This came easily to our daughters. The boys are trying. One way the boys "follow" this rule is to add a formal title when talking about adults that make them mad. For example, there is a coach Mikias refers to only as 'Coach Grumpy'. Jemberu refers to certain teachers as 'Mrs. Bossy' or 'Miss Meany'. We are still working on this.
Jemberu does not gush about his feelings for us. When I tell him I love him, he usually say, "I already know that."
But if the mood is just right, if he is tired and cuddly or maybe has a touch of a cold, his sweet words come out and they are lovely.
Walking up the stairs to put my sleepy boy to bed recently, he wrapped his arm around my waist and said, "You are the best mom in the world."
He went on, whispering, "The day I met you and dad was the best day of my life."
I began to choke up. I said, "Oh Jem, I love you so much. You know, you are so special, you are my baby. You'll always be Mumma's baby."
He ripped his arm from my waist, put his hands on his hips, looked me in the eye and said, "Oh okay, Mrs. Meaner, you are a big jerk!"
He threw himself into his bed crying. I asked him what was wrong.
"You just called me a baby! You think I am always going to be a baby! That is SO mean!"
I sat on the side of his bed and tried to explain. I told him that the youngest child in a family has a special place. That even when he is grown up, I will always love him like I do now. That I was just trying to show him how important he is to me and that I will always be there for him.
He edged closer to me, wiped his tears on my shirt and wrapped his arms around me.
I said, "That's the best thing about being a family. We always love each other and take care of each other. Jem, you will do the same thing for me. When I am old and need your help, you will help take care of me."
Jem let go of me and looking alarmed said, "No way. I do not like old ladies."
I should have quit while I was ahead.
(note: Prior to writing this post, I asked Jemberu once again who will take care of me when I am old. He responded, "Me and Addis (our dog) unless Addis is already dead.")