TENDER: Marked by, responding to, or expressing the softer emotions

Thursday nights are especially sweet.  Daughter goes to swimming lessons with Husband and I stay home with Son.  It’s such a precious time.  There are very few opportunities in my week for one-on-one time with Son and he basks in my undivided attention.  This has been going on for several weeks now and Son and I have settled in to our Thursday ritual. 

We begin by fixing hot chocolate.  Son always requests five mini-marshmallows because he’s 5 years old.  Last night, I suggested that I should get thirty-something marshmallows to match my age; the idea was vetoed by Son as he launched into a lecture on fairness.   Once our hot chocolates are in hand, we pick out a game.  Last night, the game was Clue Junior.   It’s a fun version of the classic game except that rather than finding a murderer, location and weapon you’re finding out who ate cake before dinner, what they had to drink with it and what time the transgression occurred.  I can’t tell you how many times we’ve played the game, but we’re approaching triple digits.  Following the game, we have an extra long chapter book reading session.   Last night, Charlie found the golden ticket!

In the midst of the seemingly simple ritual, I’ve had some really touching moments.  But, I wasn’t prepared for last night’s revelation.  In the transition between the game and book, Son looked at me with a quivering chin and said, “Mom?  I don’t like when you go to night time meetings.  I don’t get a chance to hug and kiss you before I go to bed.  I know you kiss me when you get home, but I’m sleeping so the kiss is only for you.  I don’t get to hug or kiss you back.”  Umph!  Sucker punch to the heart. 

Bedtime hugs and kisses are one of the highlights of my day and I know they are an important way to communicate my love to my children.  But, I had underestimated their importance to my son.  He’s right.  Hugs are for giving and receiving and it’s important to have a chance to be the hugger as well as the hugee.  I enjoy giving my sleeping angels a tender kiss on their foreheads when I return from a meeting, but that is a one-way gesture that only comforts me – the giver.  Night meetings and obligations are inevitable, but I have a renewed commitment to slowing down and taking a few moments to give and receive quality affection before leaving.  “I’ll give you a goodnight kiss when I get home” is not enough. God bless my tender Son for helping me to remember that people need a chance to both offer and receive affection.


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