It’s been a somewhat rocky week. A week where the norm was throwing spoons at your brother’s head, melting down as the carpool arrives, spitting on a girl at the park and general difficulty weathering the day without crying, yelling and dramatic unhappiness.
It was also a week I had planned a little love project. And boy, did we need it.
The premise was simple. A ceramic heart dish. A bowl of marbles. And a week spent focusing on love.
My goal? I hoped the boys would be reminded that the loving things they do fill people with love. And I hoped I would see more love – genuine, spontaneous acts of love – over the week.
So what did we learn about love?
Love can create excitement.
Fin got Eli’s socks for him. Eli let Fin choose the parent he would snuggle. In went two marbles.
They worked hard on their Valentine cards all week.
While working on Valentine’s Day cards Eli said, “Wow, Fin! That is a very fancy Valentine!”
They paused and looked at each other. Eli said, “That’s…” Fin replied, “10 marbles!” And they ran over to add a marble to the dish. (I’ll forget they briefly fought over who would put the marble in and what color it would be.)
Love may influence you to make less than ideal choices.
Fin: I helped someone at school today!
Me: That’s great! Tell me about it!
Fin: (Thinking hard.) Um….uh…I…I helped Alex?
He looks over at me to see if I’m buying it.
Me: Oh. With what?
Fin: Uh, she…she…she got hurt! (Pause. He’s gaining more confidence in his story. He’s got it figured out now.) She hurt her knee!
Me: Oh no! What happened?
Fin: Someone pushed her. (Proudly.) I got her an ice pack. I’m going to put a marble in.
Me: It was so nice of you to help Alex. I’m sure that made her feel good. I’m going to text her mom to make sure she’s ok.
I wish I could have gotten a picture of that face.
Love inspires 4-year-olds and 6-year-olds to do the sweetest things. (Sometimes even when there are no marbles to be found.)
Each night we would bring the heart and marbles to the dinner table and talk about the ways we showed love, how it made us feel and how it made others feel.
Fin: You’re beautiful, Mom. (While I’m crouched on the side of a dusty sidewalk writing a note to Eli’s teacher.)
Eli raced to Fin’s side when he got hurt.
Fin bought Eli a Matchbox car with his own money.
Picking flowers for the whole family.
Love can help turn around tough days. Even a little.
Friday the heart was empty. It was another tough day. I wasn’t sure I had another marble-inspired act of love in me. But I knew that’s what I needed to do to get us out of our funk.
I decided a frozen yogurt surprise after pick-up might do the trick. But what did I know they’d love even more than food? (If you know my children you might be wondering if that’s even possible.)
Football. Me, them and an open field.
Are you ready for the magical love-infused ending? The story of how we giggled and scored touchdown after touchdown as the sun went down? Eli rolled in a pile of dog poop three minutes into the game. The score was Seahawks 6 to Boston Buttcrabs 6. I had no way to clean him up so we had to leave 10 minutes after getting there. The boys were upset. Not quite the reframe we needed.
But after (literally) running around the neighborhood delivering the last Seahawks Valentines to our non-Seahawks-loving neighbors today, I reminded the boys that today was the last day for the love marbles. (I was kind of ready to be done with it.) “But we don’t want to stop! Let’s keep doing it!” they both said.
You can’t have enough love, right?