Well, OK not really.
But we need to remind ourselves that three words are often not enough.
My kids love to hear it for sure.
I also know, alas, that those three words often do not generate a deeper reaction these days.
Sometimes they are not enough.
These three words are more like a habit.
Just like the question you get asked by the guy behind the counter when you order your beverage.
"Would you like anything with your coffee?"
It's there. He said something. I didn't register it in the moment.
But you don't really think about it.
These days one "I love you" can mean ... brace yourself ... almost nothing.
Well, it can mean nothing ... if we don't put the meaning into it.
Remember: three words may not be enough.
Read Aloud About Your Love
Looking back, I have this to regret, that too often when I loved, I did not say so.
Don't think that a message was received just because you delivered it.
We are not mailmen, we are not in the delivery business.
Illustrate your love.
Laugh at your love.
It is not easy.
Your daily I-love-you's have become a routine.
Your kids will no longer hear it, your words become background noise.
If you want your message to be heard, my message is - enrich your love through reading aloud together.
The standard drill when selecting books is well known. Fiction and non-fiction, wordless books and books without illustrations, pop-up books and activity books...
But, there was one other category that I knew had to include in our home library.
Those that directly addressed the issue of parent-child bonding and love in a light, yet profound way.
One of the first books I read on this topic to our kids is a fabulous soft-padded board book named I Love You Through and Through.
This book penned by Bernadette Rossetti-Shustak is a marvelous example of a simple, loveable and charmingly illustrated picture book that grows with you and your kid as (s)he grows older.
It is an earnest and positive book, never rejected by my kids at read-aloud time.
They love to hear about my love for them.
It is not wordy, but it speaks directly to their pure souls.
We read it when they were two years old.
We read it when they were three years old.
We also read it now that they are four-years old.
It's fun for all involved.
My kids adore to hear me reading aloud about the specific ways that I love them.
The illustrations by Caroline Jayne Church are so full of expression, they bring a smile to our face every time we read it.
I Love Your Through and Through is straight up to the point and with a twist of fun.
And that is precisely what is needed sometimes.
No implied and long-winding messages here.
Being specific helps your kids really understand the depth and richness of your relationship, compared to generalized expressions of love given day-in and day-out.
Every page illustrates a separate 'declaration of love':
I love you through and through.
I love your top side. I love your bottom side.
I love your inside and outside! I love your happy side, I love your sad side,
your silly side, your mad side I love your fingers and toes your ears and nose....
and on and on...
Every page has a cute picture of a young boy carrying a teddy bear and they both try to act out the words that are being spoken.
What happens EVERY time when we read aloud this book?
My twins catch on with the main character and his teddy and they spontaneously act out everything that I love about them.
They show me the depth of our love.
My little pumpkin girl and boy show me their top sides, their bottom sides, their fingers, their toes...
Their silly sides... Their mad sides...
They know I love it all.
This is a love that my twins understand better - a comprehensive love.
I could never explain that in a rote declaration of love in three words.
To strenghten that connection, you need to get specific.
A children's book can help you be specific about your love.
Show your kids how and how much you love them.
And they will adore you back.
I WISH I HAD ARMS LIKE THAT
Creativity is piercing the mundane to find the marvelous.
Do you love creatively enough?
Let me rephrase that ... do you really read together books about love?
Love is soul food, yet it is sometimes implied and not confirmed often enough.
Don't say your I Love You's the same way, day in and day out.
Start reading your I Love You's in a million different ways.
Another incredible book that will help you explain your feelings to your little pumpkins, is Sam McBratney's classic Guess How Much I Love You.
As the reader, you will be the witness of a witty exchange between Little Nutbrown Hare and Big Nutbrown Hare who attempt to outdo one another in their declarations of love for each other.
The illustrations by Anita Jeram have a classic feel about them, I do not know why - but they even remind me a bit of Beatrix Potter.
The story is a hilarious verbal duel between a little hare and his bigger friend, who are trying to quantify their mutual love verbally and with wild gestures.
"Little Nutbrown Hare, who was going to bed, held on tight to Big Nutbrown Hare's very long ears.
He wanted to be sure that Big Nutbrown Hare was listening. "Guess how much I love you," he said."Oh, I don't think I could guess that," said Big Nutbrown Hare.
"This much," said Little Nutbrown Hare, stretching
out his arms as wide as they could go.
Big Nutbrown Hare had even longer arms.
"But I love you this much," he said.Hmm, that is a lot, thought Little Nutbrown Hare."
The book goes on and on in a friendly rivalry, as the two hares invent new and new ways to express their love.
And there is the lesson.
If two hares have time can think about how much they love each other, isn't it time we also stopped to think for a moment.
Let's find other ways of relaying our message.
Instead of muttering "I love you" in 1.5 seconds, let us take 20 minutes to say it by sharing a book about our feelings.
We must help our kids know that our love is much more than just three plain words.
I Love You Through And Through is available from bookstores on our lovely planet:
Guess How Much I Love You is available from bookstores all around the country and more: