The Love of Children

by Don Meyer, Ph.D. | Apr 11, 2015

“I love you in the morning and in the afternoon. I love you in the evening and underneath the moon.”
A child

Evie and I love to look at old family pictures. Photography has been one of the ways we captured special family moments. Whether it was while we were on vacation or celebrating a birthday, or just in the ebb and flow of daily life, waves of memories come rushing back when we hold in our hands the pictorial slices from our past.

I usually take our family pictures but one of our favorite ones is a spontaneous shot Evie took of me playing in the yard with Darin and Kevin. The yard was filled with all kinds of toys where we were playing with their wagon, plastic balls and bats, some buckets for dousing each other with water and the like.  

In the middle of playing, I had to take an urgent phone call inside the house. Some time went by and Darin, with little Kevin just behind him, knocked on the door and asked, “When is Daddy coming out?” Evie said it should be shortly. Some more time went by and again the boys were at the door asking when I was coming out.

In order to help them, Evie said, “Look at all of those toys. Why don’t you play with your toys?” With downcast eyes and shrugged shoulders, Darin said, “Daddy is much funner than toys.” 

After all of these years that comment still warms our hearts. It reminds us of the special love a child has for a parent and how children want us much more than the stuff we give them.  

A group of professional people posed this question to a group of children ages 4 to 8, “What does love mean?” The answers they got were broader and deeper than anyone could have imagined. Children can have profound insights.

“When my grandmother got arthritis, she couldn’t bend over and paint her toenails anymore … so my grandfather does it for her all the time, even when his hands got arthritis too. That’s love.” – Rebecca, age 8

“When someone loves you, the way they say your name is different. You just know that your name is safe in their mouth.” – Billy, age 4

“Love is when a girl puts on perfume and a boy puts on shaving cologne and they go out and smell each other.” – Karl, age 5

“Love is when my mommy makes coffee for my daddy she takes a sip before giving it to him, to make sure the taste is OK.” – Danny, age 7

“Love is what’s in the room with you at Christmas if you stop opening presents and listen.” – Bobby, age 7

“Love is when you kiss all the time. Then when you get tired of kissing, you still want to be together and you talk more. My Mommy and Daddy are like that. They look gross when they kiss.” – Emily, age 8

“During my piano recital, I was on a stage and I was scared. I looked at all the people watching me and saw my daddy waving and smiling. He was the only one doing that. I wasn’t scared anymore.” – Cindy, age 8

“Love is when Mommy sees Daddy smelly and sweaty and still says he is handsomer than Robert Redford.” – Chris, age 7

I especially loved the words of a 4-year-old child whose next door neighbor was an elderly gentleman who had recently lost his wife. Upon seeing the man cry, the little boy went into the old gentleman’s yard, climbed onto his lap and just sat there. When his mother asked what he had said to the neighbor, the little boy said, “Nothing, I just helped him cry.” 

“You really shouldn’t say ‘I love you’ unless you mean it. But if you mean it, you should say it a lot. People forget.” – Jessica, age 8

Think about it.

Dr. Don Meyer is President of 
University of Valley Forge, Phoenixville, Pa. 
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