With Ben, the words for love are always dramatic. Lately he is saying he loves Mummy (A) too much. It’s the first thing from him in the morning, the last at night. He holds her clothes or skin like they might vanish, like a little is never enough. He can hit too, in those moments. Of course A feels terrible, feels she should somehow make up for this with time or words or more focused presence. It would probably help but Ben also loves deeply and it may just be his way of expressing something we all find hard to put into words, that chest-crushing, all encompassing feeling we have for those we love with our whole being. Like our heart is walking out there in another’s body. Like it’s too much.
With me, even though I know Ben loves me very much, he will say he doesn’t love me. I think that what he is doing with both of us is testing his boundaries, and how much we love him back. Both the “positive” and negative expressions around love can hurt us sometimes. I try to stay cool and remember his age. The other day he and I were having a “time-in”, which is like a time-out but with a parent. It’s a time to chill out, take stock, with a loving coach alongside. He was super angry, trying to hit me, saying he doesn’t love me. I assured him that no matter what I would still love him. He started listing things he could do, seeing if I’d still love him, like if he bulldozed the house down or sent our stuff into space. After many questions came this one: “Would you still love me if I cut you in half and put you in jail?” To which I replied, “Well, I’d be angry and sad, and it would hurt. I’d probably die. But I’d still love you, even dead!” He scoffed at that, saying I’d be in the ground. I explained that my body would be but I’d still love him while floating out there becoming one with everything, and then would love him into the next life. He wasn’t sure, concerned I’d come back as an animal. I said I could be his dog or something. He was worried a dog couldn’t love him enough. I told him I was pretty sure I’d be a person again and I would find him and love him. He was satisfied, calmed down and started playing with me.
Sweet Ben, for heaven’s sake, words cannot describe how much we love you. I hope that deep inside you, you know that.