A couple of weeks ago, we were driving home from the grocery store. Ryan was playing with two dinosaurs in his car seat. Which is not unusual because Ryan is almost always playing with two dinosaurs no matter where he is or what else is going on around him.
As I turned out of the parking lot, Ryan held up a green velociraptor in the air and announced, “Auntie Kelly bought me my velociraptor!” And then promptly went back to making roaring, dinosaur fighting noises.
I had to think about it for a few moments before I remembered. She did. Kelly bought it for him for Valentine’s Day, more than five months ago.
The kid probably has more than 50 plastic toy dinosaurs. But he knew the green velociraptor was from Auntie Kelly. He knows his Uncle Dave bought him the large T-Rex when we were at the Cleveland Zoo. He knows the medium sized greenish-brown T-Rex came from Grandma’s house. He knows I bought him the large Stegosaurus from the Target dollar aisle.
His fondness and memory for gifts is not limited to dinosaurs. He will tell you how Uncle Dick and Auntie Susan bought him the Lego firetruck set. Or how his Auntie Boozie and Uncle Boat* bought him the orange Clemson T-shirt. Or how Mike and I bought him the green crayon cup at the Crayola factory.
You’ve heard all about the five love languages, right? My son’s main love language is, without a doubt, gifts. It is one of the main avenues through which he feels loved.
Honestly, I can relate. I think it is one of my main love languages, too. It’s not that I want or need big, expensive gifts. But when someone thinks about me and puts that thought into a tangible gift, it makes my heart sing. It can be literally anything, from jewelry to a good book to the rainbow my niece drew for me on a green notecard to hang on the fridge in my new home. I treasure it all.
The thing about people who receive love through gifts is that this is how we often give love, too. We try to be thoughtful gift-givers who pay close attention to what a person may want or need. We want to give great gifts that prove how much we pay attention because we love the person we are gifting.
Ryan doesn’t just remember what people give him – he can tell you what others want, too. He knows that of all the dinosaurs he owns, I favor the purple brachiosaurus. I randomly mentioned one day that he’s my favorite, because he’s purple. (Not that purple is my favorite color, but because how often does one see a purple brachiosaurus in nature?!)
Every day since then, Ryan has gone in search of the purple brachiosaurus for me. He’s sure I’ll feel lost without him. He hands him to me with his face lit up like a Christmas tree and a sweet, “Mommy, I got the purple brachiosaurus for you!”
He once gave me his toy school bus and said it was a “special present.” The thing had to sit in my bedroom for weeks because every time I tried to return it to his toy box, he woundedly wondered why I was getting rid of my “special present.”
If we go to the grocery store and I mention we need to get carrot sticks for Daddy’s lunch, the first thing he’ll yell out to Mike when he gets home from work is, “DADDY, WE GOT CARROTS FOR YOU!”
He thinks that every time we go to Target, we’re going there to get a “present for the baby,” because we did go there once, months ago, with the goal of getting a baby gift.
I think this means we have many years of fabulous gift-giving ahead of us. I’ll be the one hiding the wrapped BB gun in the corner, A Christmas Story-style, and he’ll give me mugs that proclaim I’m the World’s Best Mom, which I will drink from for decades.
*They have real names, in case you’re worried. Erica and Patrick. Nicknames are big in this family. (More explanation in this throwback post!)