She was naughty. She hadn’t picked up her clothes and put them away. She had however taken the trouble to pick up her clothes and hide them somewhere else so that it would appear that she had obeyed, for a little while. She didn’t like the consequences of her actions. We sat together on her bed, her tear streaked cheeks wetting my shirt as I offered her another chance. She could have a do over. I would tell her to pick up her clothes again, and this time she could obey me and do it very fast, and cheerfully. She could get stronger.
“But first I have to tell you something very important,” I said.
“I love you.” I whispered, leaning in to kiss her.
She smiled and turned to see my face, “That’s not important.”
“Yes it is, that’s the most important thing of all.”
“No it isn’t.”
“Yes it is.”
“Mommy you are just joking.”
“No I’m not. I love you is the most important thing of all that I could tell you.”
She still thinks this is all just silliness.
“Yes. I love you, I love you, I love you, I love you, I love you, I love you…”
I tickle her until she shrieks with laughter and then send her scampering to put away her clothes, properly this time.
For the rest of the day I would periodically stop her and say, “I have something important to tell you.”
She would pause and smile and yell, “I love you.”
“Yes, I do.”