I went on a field trip with my son's class on Friday morning. We went to see "Annie" performed by a youth theater group here in town. We arrived a bit early and waited in the lobby so that we could walk in with my boy. When their bus arrived, Ashley was on the lookout for Aaron. We spotted him, waved and then stepped into line with him to enter the theater. As we approached our row of seats ... he chose to sit near us, but not next to us. When a teacher asked if he wanted to sit next to his mom, he replied, "Nah ... I'm good." Aaahhh.... boys. If it had been Norah, she would have been in my lap! :)
I frequently marvel at the individuality of my children. Same mom. Same dad. Totally different kids! Just another example of God's creativity; and in some cases, His sense of humor! Here we have four kids living under our roof and everyday we find yet another example of how they see life differently. Aaron is super easy-going while Norah has a rather intense level of drama in her life. Ashley is a cuddlebug, Lydia is a gotta-get-busy bug. Norah feels immediate remorse when she does something wrong, Aaron needs to see specifically how his wrong effects others ... Lydia is oblivious. Ashley has never met a stranger while Norah would much rather turn invisible when introduced to someone new. Norah is interested in everybody's business; Ashley likes to boss people regarding their personal business; Aaron keeps to himself - indifferent to other people's business ... Lydia is physically IN everybody's business and personal space. Yep ... they each approach life differently.
In the past year, Brett and I have become more aware of yet another area of distinctiveness in our kids: How they perceive and share love. In the same way that our children are different regarding their likes and dislikes, interests and hobbies, personalities and identities ... they also feel and show love in unique and personal ways. Dr. Gary Chapman has spent years investigating this peculiarity of love and in 1992 published a book entitled, "The 5 Love Languages". Through his course of study and his interactions with hundreds of people, he was able to deduce that there are basically five unique ways in which we each define love: Words of Affirmation, Quality Time, Receiving Gifts, Acts of Service and Physical Touch.
According to his research, we may experience love in any or all of the these ways, but there is typically one area that is stronger than the others. One area in particular really fills your love-tank. As Brett puts it, using any one of these areas will fill your love tank, but there is one that fills it fast. Like the NASCAR pit-stop. Filled up and ready to go!
I thought it would be interesting to look at each category over the next several posts ... with the hopes that you would be able to identify your own love language and those of your loved ones. That way, you can communicate your love needs, but also love those around you better ... like a Pit Chief on Jimmy Johnson's pit-crew!
Today we'll focus on Words of Affirmation and Quality Time.
I'll come right out and tell you that for me love is shown in words, words, words! I love to be told, clearly and repeatedly that I am loved, valued and noticed. Compliments set me afloat, I tuck away notes and cards to read and re-read later and my whole day can be changed by one surprise, expression of praise or admiration. I can capture in my mind little snippets of things people have said to me ... and I can replay them again and again when I need a boost. I think this is why music is so powerful for me, too. Words set to music are even more powerful! I love to use words, too (if you've been a faithful Snapshots reader ... that is quite clear). I enjoy writing notes to family and I love snuggling with my kiddos and whispering to them praises and encouragement.
My little Norah also experiences love through words. She loves to write notes and letters. And she loves to receive them, too. Each day, I stick a "love napkin" in the kids' lunch bags ... a quick affirmation scribbled on their napkin. She keeps them. All. In the bottom of her backpack. Even if she is having hot lunch, she asks that I write her something. She needs to hear from us that she is precious, important and valuable. In words.
Along these same lines, we both are easily hurt by words. Insults and critical words also stick in my brain and are almost impossible to forget. I can remember unkind words from a classmate in the 6th grade. Yep ... words are powerful. :)
As for Quality Time, Aaron is a perfect example of this love language. His love tank is only truly filled by quality time: full, undivided attention. When we share our bests and leasts at the end of the day, Aaron's highs & lows almost always center around whether or not he had time with friends and family. If he got to play with a buddy, it was a good day. If he didn't, well ... that ends up being a "least". If he got to play Wii with Daddy, it was a great day. If he didn't, it's more of a bummer day. Aaron is a classic example of the the need for Quality Time in that if I take just 15-20 minutes in the afternoon to connect with him (play a game, listen to him recount his recess touch-down, read "Calvin & Hobbes" together or have him join me in fixing dinner) he is happy, helpful and hands-down more fun to be with.
If I'm in a hurry or distracted and he is needing to get his love-tank filled ... he picks on he sisters, wanders around bored, and generally gets into trouble. He is seeking attention and apparently he's not particular if it's positive or negative. Just a few minutes of quality face-to-face time is a huge investment for him and he goes away confident, secure and ready to be a productive part of our family.
As a side note, words don't really mean much to him. He has confessed to "not really reading" my notes. But I still send them along ... just in case!
We have three more "Love Languages" to cover in the coming days ... come back and we'll learn more about how our hearts tick. :)