I love you
I was going to write about middle names. Then I met the kid who wasn’t loved enough.
And I wanted to tell you, you can never love enough, and if you’ve been thinking you could be doing a better job loving your kids, loving yourself, loving your neighbours, then do so.
The kid told me his parents are fulsome and fussy, to everyone but him. He said that behind closed doors, they sour on him and act as if he was mistakenly present. A smile to strangers. A nasty face to kin. That’s familial thievery. And they forget it’s not their friends who will wheel them when they’re getting on. They forget they must show love to get love.
The young boy’s older brother punches him when he gets home, and his parents say little, because the older brother is the “special one.”
The kid teared up. “I want to be loved,” he tells me. “Why don’t they like me?”
How does that work? He’s from her womb. He’s his seed. It seems, we must reject our own. I guess we are nature. Maybe we should start giving examples from people to prove things about animals.
Non-special kids know they are. And beatings hurt. “It’s only bruises,” he said.
There is a Somali proverb that states: the last camel in line walks as quickly as the first. Which means, what happens to the least of us, has an effect on all of us. How can the Toronto Jewish community help this family? How can everyone help?
We must all learn how to express our love in a way that it is clearer, in a way that will circulate. To achieve this, sensitivity and appreciation between denominations is paramount, as is a personal journey into our own behaviour.
Every child must know he or she is cared for and that someone recognizes the uniqueness of his/her soul. When did you last hold your child, look him or her in the eyes and say, “You are my gem, and I thank God every day you are mine.” When was the last time you paraded your child’s gift in his/her eyes, invested in it, and helped your child nurture it? When did you do the same for yourself? “What a gift I am to me.”
We have more than 100 shuls in Toronto and many schools. We have programs, places to buy Judaica and men who write Torahs. All of those, all of them, exist to show love for our neighbours, kids and ourselves. All of them exist in the humanist, secular, Reform, Conservative, Orthodox and haredi communities. All of them are worthless if they do not encourage kindness, authenticity and genuine love, particularly for our children, particularly for ourselves. This applies to all religions, to all communities.
Figuring you’re doing your best is like loving a child by mistake. It doesn’t work that well. It’s like the kid who grabbed my hand at the video store instead of his mom’s. He knew I was the stranger. He felt it in his fingers, on his knuckles, in his palm. He pulled away.
Hold your child close. Listen to your child. Learn how to show him/her you. If you’ve never said, “I love you,” say it. Esther loved the Jewish people. Mordechai loved Esther.
I was going to write about middle names, then I met this kid who wasn’t loved enough.