A number of months ago I was visiting with a librarian at an elementary school who admitted changing the word ‘love’ in “Hamilton Troll meets Pink Light Sprite” to ‘care for’.
“And when you are frightened think of me in the dew,
and remember my friend that I do love you”
…“and remember my friend that I care for you.”
At first I didn’t understand the need or desire for the change but I accepted it and moved on. She was a wonderful librarian, also admitting that she read the rhyming verse with a rap beat and the children loved it. I hadn’t thought about that moment for a long time.
A couple months later I did a reading at a school and upon reading that line; I received a few sarcastic “ooh”s from the kids implying more to the word love than was intended. This interjection got many of the other children giggling under their breath which drew my attention to the crowd. My response was a paused, tilted head “Really?” which successfully got the children’s attention back. Yet even that moment didn’t bring about the full implications of that dreaded four letter word until just recently when I found enough time to fully contemplate the significance of those moments after a personally received response.
After vocalizing the entire phrase that Pink Light spoke in the book (memorized by heart) to portray its significance with children I received the response I expected and had seen and experienced so many times before. A heartfelt smile, hand brought up to heart and a tear twinkling in the corner of the recipients eye.
The reason I use the word love is because of its power. Having been on the receiving end of inspiring stories I’ve been thanked many times for the message Pink Light gives. Children young and old, hold tight to those words, are endeared towards the story and grasp hold of it tightly, not necessarily because of the illustrations or the fact that Hamilton is afraid of storms; it’s the message of love that endears them.
Children in this day and age are being ‘cared’ for, tended to, nurtured… but not necessarily loved. In school you are being taught, educated, even inspired (if you are lucky) but not loved. Love is a dreaded four letter word that is avoided, sometimes, even in the family. The ‘given’ aspect of knowing that there is love involved implies it isn’t necessary to express verbally. But children NEED to be loved. They NEED to be TOLD they are loved. And not just by their mothers and father.
I LOVE my pets. I LOVE my church family. I LOVE my best friend.
I LOVE every child I read to because they are special to me.
When did it become a taboo word to say?
In hind sight I look back to that day with the sarcastic “ooh” and I remembered something that now stands out as extremely significant even though it didn’t stand out at that moment. While there were many who found the word a reason to giggle or interfere with the message, there were even more faces staring back at me with eyes open wide, shy smiles hidden on a face afraid to be seen by the antagonizers. Yet the longing in their eyes, the way they sat up a little straighter. The way they leaned into the story, the way they wanted to hear more, to feel more. I even now remember a couple of faces of annoyance turned towards the gigglers, and then turned back with rolling eyes, upset that they too didn’t feel the significance of the message. Maybe there was even a sadness felt for the gigglers that they couldn’t understand the significance.
Were they ashamed by the word?
Were they jealous of the word?
Had they been taught that it isn’t a proper word to share?
Maybe the problem in this day and age is because the true meaning of the word was never taught or shared at an earlier age. Maybe if they had experienced true ‘love’ in the way that it was intended; to be shared and felt as a compassionate term of endearment; maybe they would be less likely to fall in ‘love’ with someone who is incapable of compassion themselves.
So the next time you are faced with a choice – to use the word love or care for… choose love.
Love is the four letter word that all children NEED to learn!!!!