Our daughter was acting funny when we got home yesterday.

Usually when she’s happy it’s a jump-around, slam dance kind of happy. Silly, rolling around. Her quiet moods have tended to be project concentration (art), or pouting, musing about the dark side of life, brooding. So when she was quiet and clinging onto me I was expecting her to cry. Instead she said quietly “I love you,” and held on and on.

At first I thought she might have heard something about the terrible shooting at the Connecticut school. But that wasn’t it. Fortunately she’s been spared knowing about that for now, and we’ve been spared explaining unexplainable mass tragedy to her for one more day.

Then I thought it might be Taco Bell. We’d gone to a dinner for her brother’s preschool. It was nice to see the other parents but disastrously planned. The restaurant didn’t have room for us all and it was going to be way too late by the time we got a place to sit and food. So we bribed the kids away from the toy-filled play pit: “Taco Bell for everybody if we can leave now without a scene.” It worked.

Our daughter’s devotion to Taco Bell runs deep. At first I suspected the toys in the kids meal, but after I realized every Taco Bell kids meal comes with awful sugary churros (larger than the taco) I put my foot down: we go there for food, not toys. Still she loves going there. I suspect she’s got positive memories of a Taco Bell with her mom.

Anyway, back to home. By the third or fourth long hug and “I love you” I asked her why I was so lucky to be getting all this love. “Because I decided I love you today.”

“Because of Taco Bell?” I asked. Really I couldn’t let go of that.

“No. I decided at school. I love you.”


Her little brother came to us at an age where he just loves us, would love anyone who feeds and cares for him. I think it’s an automatic, primate response. For now he doesn’t have a choice.

But I guess for a 4, then 5-year-old, it could be more like for the rest of us. We can spend time with someone, even move in with someone, but at some point we decide that we love them. I think I decided I loved her right around the time she threw the cat off the balcony. Or in the calm after that storm.

And yesterday, she decided as well. In my experience once she decides something, it’s pretty much a done deal. I couldn’t ask for a better, more touching Hanukkah, Christmas, and New Year’s gift. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.