At the start of the school year this year, my daughter, the nanny, called to share with me about her “boys”’ first day of preschool this year. She was sharing a story about the morning and how Son #1, age 3, was anxious about school. She coached him, talked with him and eventually she cut the shape of a heart out of construction paper and put it in his backpack. She told him to remember when he saw it that he would be okay and that the love she was sending him to school with, would be with him throughout the day. She reminded him that she would show him that love when he returned home that afternoon by giving him a big hug. The boy’s mother was listening to the conversation as she was getting ready to leave for work that day and said, “Nicole, you are really good at that. Did your mother do stuff like that with you when you were young?” Nicole replied, “She still does.”
Yes, I still do do things like that for my kids. The Little Things. Currently, there is a 6 ounce box of mini banana Moon Pies sitting on my dining room table that needs to be mailed out to my daughter in Colorado. (Better mail it before I post this blog or it won’t be a surprise.) Last month I mailed out a Dollar Store car cleaning rag to her because it was soft and fuzzy and everyone needs a soft, fuzzy thing sent to them. I was hoping it would almost be like a hug in a box to her. I’ve mailed out tea bags in the hopes that it would evoke memories of tea and conversation at our kitchen table. Even now, though my kids are grown, I still send The Little Things. A bookmark, a magazine article, a stamp, whatever is sitting around . A Little Thing that would be a reminder of a much Bigger Thing, my love.
It made my heart happy to hear that my daughter is keeping the tradition alive and sharing Little Things with others. She said that she remembered all the things I used to do. When I was traveling, I would leave notes taped to my kids’ headboards for them to open each night before they went to sleep. When I first started to travel without them, I left more than one note per day and individual ones for each child. As I got more comfortable and knew that they, too, were more comfortable, there were fewer notes. Post it notes may be put on fridges, mirrors and book bags, I would leave lists of reminders of activities and reminders of my love. After a few trips, it became clear that they really didn’t need physical reminders (they opened all their notes the day of my return or didn’t open them at all) but I still left them. When my children were the ones to go away, I would load their suitcases with notes or trinkets as surprises. My 10 year old daughter went to camp this year and I wrote a message on the inside of her water bottle lid. She didn’t need to receive it, but I needed to send it.
In the days of quick texts and public posts on Facebook, it has become very easy to send your sentiments to someone when you aren’t with them. I appreciate these electronic messages too, but I am also happy that my kids grew up before they were so available. Occasionally, I will still find a note stuck in the bottom of a drawer or in a suitcase pocket. The note forgotten for a long time, but the love it represented wasn’t forgotten for a second!
So, kids, if I never write you another note, if I never send another card, if I never get the opportunity to sneak a trinket into your backpack or suitcase again, I hope you’ll never forget that time….remember?….the time I kissed your hand and told you that you could take my love with you wherever you went and that you could apply a kiss to your cheek anytime, simply by opening your hand and touching your face. Oh and don’t forget….I still have a smile in my pocket for anytime you are looking sad…there’s a chance you have one in your pocket too, so if you need a smile, just reach into your pocket, grab it and apply. Don’t forget to give these Little Things to others too…you never know how much they might need them.