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Erica Galindo
Celebrating Food, Faith and Family
Last edited on: January 9, 2012.

My favorite coffee mug reads, “I drink coffee for your protection.”

Coffee is not merely a delicious drink to me. I will freely admit it, you are hearing from the voice of addiction. I really NEED my morning coffee.  Just two cups, mind you. But the idea of skipping those two cups is out of the question.  In fact, my favorite coffee mug reads, “I drink coffee for your protection.” So when my children make their way downstairs in the morning, how I greet them will depend heavily upon whether I’ve had cup number one, or cup number two, or heaven forbid, none of the above.

And then it depends on the child. Thankfully, God has blessed me with one child—a teenager at that—who is always calm, compliant, eager to please and pleasant, no matter how early in the morning. But I have three children. The other two can enter the morning breakfast arena in various stages of either mute silence or long low growls. (Actually…I’ve been thinking they should start drinking coffee.)

But here’s the worst part. My other two children, my first born who’s actually a young man now and a youngest daughter of 9, are highly distractible, some might even say ADHD. Their fast moving minds will start a thousand tasks a day that are seldom completed. But each task started can be documented by the little nest of materials—which they first gathered for their monumental plan, played with for a bit, and then abandoned as their mind picked up on yet another thought stream.

In one corner there’s a massive pile of tissues and some sticks gathered from the woods. But over there you’ll find the little plastic weaving loom, a pair of scissors and a bag of yarn. And under yon dining room table, you’ll find a little office has been established, complete with an old typewriter, a pencil holder and white board covered with what appears to be the company’s profit and loss statement.

My young adult son isn’t much better, only his nests involve laptops, college materials, dress shirts, and empty food containers.

Before these two kids can even arise, I will have prepared a three minute speech with twenty items they must do in order to restore harmony to my universe and put them back in my good graces.  That list, and my commanding voice, was often what would greet them first thing in their day.

One day I was watching a television show in which a teenage girl explained to a friend that her mom always greeted her as though she had been gone for months rather than hours.  The welcome was sincere, even flowery, but this girl had come to expect it and see it as the love language that it was.

This was a jolt of an awakening for me.

The teenage girl knew as she walked in the door there would be warmth and welcome and greeting. What did my kids feel as they approached my door? It certainly wasn’t the anticipation of anything pleasant.

In fact, it’s more likely that as they neared the door, they began to sort of close down, shoulders hunched, getting ready for “The Mom Bomb”.

I determined that from then on out I would make sure that the first face my children saw after a period of separation would be one of welcome…one of greeting…maybe even one of delight.

It seems like such a simple thing.  But the impact is powerful.

Now when they come down from the stairs I say “Good morning!  How are you this morning?  How did you sleep?”  I offer a hug or a cup of tea.  I chat with them over anything that interests them. And for my youngest I burst into a more animated greeting using a pet name that somehow emerged for her (It’s “Shoogity boogity” if you must know). Then she and I always stop for a quick good morning hug.

If I’m picking them up from an event or practice they’ve attended, no matter what else may be on my mind, I make sure that my first face is a smile and a sincerely warm greeting.  I may still have an item in the back of my mind that needs to be addressed—and it will be—but it needn’t be the first thing that they hear.

I want them to anticipate coming into my presence. I want to them to know they’ll be wrapped up in warm words of greetings. I want my first words to affirm to them that they are valuable to me…that home is always longing for them…that they are loved.

What is your first face?  How do you greet each other?  Do you give each other the same consideration that frankly you would probably give to a coworker or an acquaintance?  Well, we should.  All of those words of correction will certainly find their way back into the conversation.  They pop up naturally.  Annoyingly so. But making a habit of friendly First Faces doesn’t happen naturally.  It will take an awareness and an effort on your part. But the in the end, this very simple act has a wonderful payoff in keeping heart strings firmly attached.

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