Here's what happened.
It was dinner time. My daughter, Sarah, was reading a bedtime story to our grandson, Luka, five years old, in the spare bedroom. We had agreed that she would say goodnight and that I would then go in to read him one last story.
Well, I went in to his bedroom and Sarah finished reading her story and tried to say goodnight, but Luka threw a fit. He clung and clung to his mommy, screaming and yelling that he didn't want her to leave. Finally, she took off the silver bracelet she was wearing and put it on his arm. She told him she loved hm, and he could keep the bracelet all night long.
Luka was still screaming bloody murder when she left, closing the door quietly behind her. I managed to calm him down a little by showing him a new book, Freaky Tales, and asking him to choose one of the stories, which he did, finally, reluctantly, and soon got lost in the story he had chosen. It was the story of a mouse who wanted to be famous.
By the time I reached the end of the story, Luka seemed quite calm and ready to go to sleep. I gave him a kiss and told him that I loved him, tucked him in, and left him with his head down on the pillow.
All seemed well, until we were about to start on dinner. Then, a desperate, near-hysterical scream from the bedroom: "Mommy! Mommy!"
I went back, all ready to scold him gently and remind him that we had made a deal: one more story from grandpa, and then off to sleep.
But that wasn't it at all. He just wanted to give mommy's bracelet back. He allowed me to take it from him to give to her, and went happily off to sleep.
This morning, I told him how proud I was of him. I told him how our actions send messages. His Mom's message, in giving him the bracelet, was this: I love you and I'll be here with you, no matter what. His message to his mom: thanks, Mom, I know you love me, and I'll be okay. I can take care of myself.
Powerful messages, both, in two simple gestures. Luka had announced his trust and independence. Sometimes a teacher comes along in a very small, five-year-old package.