"Sit with me on the couch and give me a hug," he orders before we leave for school each day. And at school as we are exchanging goodbyes: "I need a kiss."
When I told him the other night I had to go out to a meeting, his face crumpled. "No," he replied. "I need mamma. I need her."
The other day, on the couch as he played: "I need you to sit next to me." And another time, wanting a little back rub: "I need you to touch me."
Something happens to us as we grow older. We start out expressing how we really feel and get our hearts stomped on. Or maybe we say the wrong thing and hurt a friend, lose a relationship. We act ourselves and are ridiculed so we learn how to be someone else, to be a different version of ourselves. We grow weary of rejection. We forget what it's like to say unabashedly what we mean...what we need...what's right in the middle of our hearts. Instead we dance around subjects and leave subtle hints and hope desperately that someone will read between the lines.
Transparency is so risky. And there are real risks, real opportunities to be hurt.
But sometimes I wonder what it would be like to take Ethan's approach with the people I love. To throw caution into the wind and just say it. Not exploding in anger, but just expressing the needs I have down deep with those close to me with wisdom, but complete openness. Now John Mayer is running through my head: Say what you need to say/Say what you need to say...
I look at my son and I'm reminded how much we don't say, because we are afraid. Then I think that there is a better way. I think how I could live life playing fewer games, and talking maybe not necessarily more, but straight from the heart.