“Huggies and kissies, mom!  Do all the car things!”

“Do all the car things” is shorthand for: buckle your seatbelt, stop at the red lights, watch out for other cars and come back home safely.  My almost-5-year-old daughter used to give that great big, long list to me every time I left for something.  But over time, it morphed into “do all the car things.”  Also, it’s shorthand for “I love you, Mom!”

Now, in turn, I tell her to “do all the kid things.”  This, depending on the time of day, may include stuff like eat your dinner and clean up the dishes afterwards.  She always seems to know exactly what I’m referring to, and I believe she knows that what I’m really saying is, “I love you, too, kiddo!”

Somewhere along the way, she picked up “See ya later, alligator,” and so of course I respond “After awhile, crocodile.”  It’s quite the ritual we have going on when I leave.  Like any family tradition, it’s getting longer, and is taking on a life of its own.  And it’s becoming something unique to just us.

Becky Bailey, author of I Love You Rituals, notes that “rituals are the lenses through which we see our emotional connections to each other, to a culture, and to a higher power.  They are symbolic expressions of our most sacred values” (pg. 52).

I was talking to one of the other preschool moms yesterday.  Her daughter is much like my oldest—a little more reserved, a little more quiet.  I loved how this mom recognized that such a personality trait is not a “fault.”  It’s a valid trait in and of itself.  It just perhaps needs a different approach when it comes time to drop a child off at preschool.

I know from dealing with my oldest daughter that little “I Love You” rituals are extremely helpful in working through those transitions—from being at home to going to school, or from rushing around getting ready in the morning to settling into a Kindermusik class.  This is part of why I appreciate the hello songs we sing to get started in Kindermusik class—it’s a nice way to signal the beginning of class, as the kids are recognized by their names and can understand that this is the start of something special.

I look forward to Kindermusik classes starting up again next week.  These “I love you” rituals that we do (as part of class, but that we’ve learned from being in class, too) have come to be just as meaningful to me as they are to my kids.

Does your family have any favorite hello/goodbye rituals?  Share with us in the comments!

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