The many ways children say ‘I love you’

Children often have unique ways of communicating their love. My children have come up with some creative ones. Sometimes, I think those creative expressions of love are even better than just a straight “I love you.” I often have to read between the lines to extract that meaning, sometimes deep, deep between the lines.

When Dawson, 9, was about 3, I was tucking him in for the night. I kissed Dawson, told him I loved him and turned around to walk out of the room. As I was leaving, he yelled after me, “Mom, you are my super power.”

I did not get an “I love you” that night but coming from a 3-year-old little boy who loved all things superhero I felt like that was even better than an I love you. I’m his super power! At 9, he probably doesn’t think that anymore, but as far as I’m concerned, he does. That might be my best I love you alternative to this day, though I must say I have gotten some pretty amazing ones since.

My dear Violet, 5, told me at bedtime, “Momma there’s nothing better than you.” And she once said, “You sparkle my day.” I have tried to incorporate that one into my lexicon because it’s just so special to sparkle someone’s day.

This summer we have enjoyed eating a lot of meals outside. Sunday we ate dinner on our back porch. The kids sit at a little picnic table my mom gave them several years ago. When Eleanor finished eating she hopped down from the picnic table, ran over to me and excitedly yelled in my face, while I was eating, “You are my sweetheart.”

Shauna Banning, of Bellevue, recently went back to work. She was nervous about a new job and starting back to work after having been home with her boys while they were little. Her son, Kingston, 9, loves to play the video game Clash of Clans. For those of you who don’t know, because I did not, it’s a video game with fantasy characters like witches, healers, and warriors. Kingston’s favorite character is the fireball-throwing wizard because he is a good attacker.

One evening she returned home to a note to cheer her on. Kingston wrote, “I love you, mom. Hope you made good calls today! Remember you’re a fireball-throwing wizard. You’re a boss. We also got the mail. Love Kingston.”

Rachel Anderson, of Port Angeles, has two boys Nathan, 10, and Isaac, 8.

Isaac broke his arm seven days before school was out for the summer. They were driving to the orthopedic surgeon’s office for Isaac’s weekly x-rays. On their way, they drove past the cancer center where Rachel and her husband, Randy, are both patients.

As they drove by, Isaac asked, “Mom, is that the cancer center?” Rachel told him it was. “I’m glad the cancer center is here,” he said. “But I don’t like the cancer center because even though the doctors and nurses get to help a lot of people, there are too many people that are killed by cancer. Mom, I want to kill cancer.”

Rachel encouraged him to think about all the science that has happened to help people like her and her husband. Rachel is a breast cancer survivor, and Randy survived tonsil cancer.

The Andersons have been working to teach their children not to hit, or push and just to keep their hands to themselves. Nathan is on the autism spectrum, has epilepsy and developmental delays. Just before Nathan walked by Isaac, he turned to Rachel and asked, “Mom, is it ok if I hit him.”

“What do you think,” s?e asked.

“No,” he said.

Rachel confirmed that was the correct answer and was proud to see him keep walking with his hands to himself. Sometimes when you find your child has absorbed a lesson you’ve been working so hard to teach, that’s a sign of their love, too.

I would love to hear your funny kid stories, so please send them my way. Parents, teachers, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and people who love children, send your stories and cute kid photos to I look forward to hearing from you.

Quinn Ward is a former journalist living in Poulsbo. She has been recording the amazing and outrageous things her kids say since they have been able to talk.