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the other day i was leaving the kitchen and bella called me back. when i stuck my head through the doorway she said:

BELLA
you forget something?

TROY
uhh. no. i just came down for my coffee.

BELLA
you didn't say i love you.

TROY
oh. yes. sorry. love you.

BELLA
love you too. hope you have a great day. do good. make it happen.

bella's bonus parting words are part of what i guess you might call her verbal footer. she ends most farewells with that closing. to break it down it is her love you sentiment. followed by her standard wish that the world cooperates with you today. then you have my family mantra, 'do good.' and she ends with marty's family mantra, 'make it happen.'

regarding the love you bit, i sometimes wonder if we say "love you" too much in our house. yesterday i talked about (ref) my boy's unsolicited calls of 'love you' as they headed to bed. and here i'm getting chastised by my daughter for forgetting to say "love you" as we passed each other in the house. i find myself fully conflicted about the frequency. and understandably so. i probably got a near daily dose from my mother, and then there was her annual ritual of sitting me down and giving me the "even though i didn't give birth to you troy it is not humanly possible for me to love you any more than i do" talk (previously discussed here). on the flip side, i never heard the words from my father until i was in my thirties, and then only after i kinda forced the matter with him.

i've talked to lots of folks who said "love you" wasn't something they regularly heard. when you bring it up with them, it rarely seems to be something they have ever given much thought to. we got what we got in the way of our family homes. and we know what we know based on our personal experiences. though, i will confess to liking studying a person's face as they ruminate on the question.

marty has taught me that an extension of this deals in hugging and cuddling. marty is a big believer in cuddles with her children, both at the end and beginning of the day. before our 2017 holiday break began i asked marty if there was anything she hoped happened during our holidays. she thought a moment and said, "the only thing i want is for every morning to start with people cuddling in my bed before the day starts."

now to be clear cuddles with marty are not your typical staid affair. there are serious talks about dating, sex, and masturbation. there are science talks about how the body and world operate. there are inquisitive talks about relationships and their challenges and problem-solving, and ALL matters of their parents' past. you could say cuddles with marty are a full-contact sport involving surely the physical closeness but also, and very possibly more-so, emotional intimacy.

and regarding hugs, marty has a curious tendency. sometimes you will be hugging marty and go to pull away after what seems like the normal, requisite time and you will feel her grip tighten on you, and with her head still nestled in your shoulder she will say, "no, i'm not done" and the hug will go on until, in her own time, she will soften, step back and announce, "now i'm done". that practice began in her teen years with her mother heard the "no, i'm not done yet" message on more than one occasion.

so perhaps we do say "love you" more than is typical and plan cuddles with greater frequency than most and mandate hug durations (one of us at least), and perhaps this is all going to culminate in unintentional ill-effects on the future adults we are raising. but since i don't know this to be the case and since i can't see any harm in the folds of these practices, i am most happy to err on the world we know and feel than drift to the side of convention, you know, just because.

JAN2018

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