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My son demonstrates higher intelligence through withholding. He is almost three years old and repeats nonsense all the time. What explains the fact that his favorite word is excavator?
He’s finally figured out the countdown technique for doing things (by the time we arrive at “one” he has always finished the job). The significance of pithy politesse (says thank you when he knows to expect he should hear it, not when he means it). But I have said I love you to him every single day of his existence, and he has yet to say it back to me. Not to repeat it, not to confirm it, not to indicate feeling it. I know he loves me. That is not the point. The point is that at three he already believes he must withhold the words. He already knows that saying it out loud and admitting to the feelings would change the feelings and our relationship forever.
I imagine all of the conversations we will have, and that he will have on his own with other people who love him. His grandparents keep telling me I coddle him. I never want to worry I didn’t let you know I love you so madly and deeply. If words aren’t the way, how could you possibly interpret my actions any other way at all.
And if children shouldn’t, then mightn’t we neither.