I have been witness to great love. Love that caused proclamations to be made, tears to be shed and heartache to ensue. I have been overwhelmed when I stood in the presence of this love, it brought me to tears, it caused me pause and it had me rethink my beliefs on love and children’s capacity to feel it.
A while ago my nephew Ben crawled into a hammock and my daughter followed him. As I rocked them in the hammock Helaina put her head on Ben’s shoulder. Ben being four gave a Helaina a little sideways glance and then asked me “why does she do that?”
“I think because she loves you Ben. She knows how kind you are and I think she remembers how you took care of her so well when she was a baby.” I could see Ben’s face soften. “Remember when you used to call her Baby Thumbelina. You used to tickle her and make her laugh. I think she remembers all the kind things you do for her.”
He gave me a very serious look at this point.
“If the wolves try to hurt her I will kill them. If they come to get her I will jump in between and stop them. I will not let them hurt her.”
I cannot begin to tell you how serious he was, how passionate he was that he was going to protect her. What I can tell you was I was speechless. It took me a minute to come up with something to say and honestly what I said was pathetic.
“She must be important to you.”
“yes” he said. “I love her.”
He loved her and that was clear. I did not need him to tell me so. This moment has stayed with me for months. I wondered how to tell the story of that moment. I feared I could not do it justice.
Then last week Helaina experienced heartache. You cannot experience heartache without love. I know this now, thanks to her.
It was a simple moment. Her grandmother and Aunt left our home to go out without her. The moment the door closed she began to cry and came running to me. I got down to her level to give her hug. When I looked into her eyes, I saw her heartache and I felt it too. I am not going to lie, I cried too.
In our society we talk a lot about how children need love but what we don’t give much thought and time to is their capacity to feel love. I have witnessed this love in my classroom, in my family and in my home. I know now with certainty that children feel and are capable of great love. It is my belief too that we could learn a thing or two about love from children.