I have one child whose heart turns undeniably soft every night at 9:15 pm. Like clockwork, he becomes a compassionate, tender-hearted voice of conviction, and he just wants to snuggle and right all the wrongs of the day.

The only sad thing about this is that I’m finished being a patient parent by that hour of the day. I tell them sometimes, “You guys, the woman known as Nice Mom goes to bed at 8:30. If you are awake after that, all bets are off. I can’t promise who you’ll see if you’re up past Nice Mom’s bedtime.”

But Nice Mom had a few drops of conversation left when Tender Heart climbed under my blanket with me, and I remembered all that jazz about fleeting seasons and teachable moments.

I said, “Buddy, let’s play the game called Things I Love About You.”Watercolor Painted Red Heart Symbol  For Your Design. Heart Shap

He said, “I love that you’re awesome.”

“Well, thank you, but this game is exceedingly more fun if you’re specific.”

I’m so not above outright fishing for words of affirmation so they’ll become fluent in this language I love. You’re welcome, future daughters-in-law.

“I’ll go first,” I said. “I love that you’re so creative and so very, very funny.

He said, “And I love that you don’t give me everything I want.”

Wait. What just happened?

“What an interesting word choice, buddy.  Can you tell me more?”

He said, “Because if you gave me everything I ever wanted, I would only be bored. I love that you give me everything I need, but not everything I want. So I’m still a good kid.”

I tried not to crane my neck too much to make sure this was indeed my child, the one prone to throwing the occasional fit in the aisle at Target when his plans and wish lists are thwarted.

“Buddy, that’s such a wise thing for you to say. Please keep it in mind the next time I say no, okay? Try to keep in mind that it’s one of the things you apparently love about me.”

Then I kissed his downy head and simply enjoyed the warmth of everything about him.

Processing this later with a friend of mine, whom I will introduce to you in the weeks to come, he said,

“Tricia, look at how beautiful that is, and look what you’ve taught your son about God. The next time someone presents you with a Prosperity Gospel, when someone tells you that God’s gifts are the result of hard enough faith, remind yourself of your son’s words. Everything I want? No, that’s not my God. He loves me too much for that.”

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