When my son was very young, say four or five years old, I told him that one of the greatest gifts a person could ever receive was the chance to say I love you too. “Because if you get to say, I love you too it means that someone else said, I love you, first.” After that, he would often follow up his “I love you too’s” with “Hey, Mommy, I win!”
When I wrote this he was much older, a much taller than me, deep-voiced, hulking, athletic teen — with a girlfriend, friends, team mates, school, video games, interests, etc. You know, a life of his own and with a lot of childhood things left behind.
Then one day, a few years ago, my husband and I were traveling in India and something about standing alone, amongst the many, in the din of this Indian street corner caused me to miss the few — my children. Finally, I managed to get enough signal to send a text home so; I sent my son an “I love you” text. A few minutes later I got an “I love you too” response and then, a second later, a second text that said, “Hey, Mom, I win!”
I lost my breath, and my heart fluttered…he remembered. I let him think he won but in that brief moment, I had my five-year-old boy looking up at me and holding my hand (as we crossed a busy street) and telling me…he loved me too.
Hey, Son…I win.