All the Ways to Say I Love You From A to Z

Aleph, Bet, Vet are the first three letters learned at Hebrew School.  Now you are teaching them to me.  Thank you for that.  You are a wonderful and inventive teacher.

Bionicle pieces up your nose take 4 hours and $640 dollars to remove.  One day you were doing magic and your ear was full so you put the piece up your nose.  While waiting to be seen you walked up to the emergency room window and said “Excuse me, the last time I was here I got a popsicle, do you have any popsicles?” and they found you one.  You had quite the conversation with the doctor, first with regard to which light was better, then which was the better forceps and so on, until finally the piece was removed.  You had even brought a duplicate so you could show him what was up there.  I never want to go to the emergency room with you again.

Curiosity.  So many questions.  Thank God for Google.

Delicious is the word I use to describe you when anyone asks how you are.  Sometimes yummy.

Every day you say or do something that knocks me off my feet.  That amuses, and surprises, and makes me so proud of you.

Fear of spiders is a trait we both share.  We know they’re good luck so we don’t kill them, but we hate them and are afraid of them and that’s why you hate to play outside, but only at our house.  There’s a spider web on the hedge and you can’t destroy it.  I can’t either.

Gimme a hug, woman!” is a phrase heard a lot around the house.  Sometimes you talk like Austin Powers, sometimes like a bad movie from the 70’s, but always with the utmost sense of humor regarding your dialog.

House is one of our favorite shows to watch together on television.  I wonder if that’s part of the reason you want to be a scientist and study chemistry and genetics.  This week.

I love you more than gummi bears.  I love you more than Camembert.  I love you more than poetry.  I love you more than flirting.  I love you more than Paris.  I love you more than Spain. 

Just leave me a message,” you say, “You call me too much”.  Forgive me.  I am trying not to be one of those mothers.

Kissing the apples of your cheeks, then your forehead, nose, chin and lips is one of the pleasures of being your mom.  I have always asked your permission to give you a kiss.  One of these days you will say “no” and I will know that I have done a good job getting you ready to leave the nest.

Likes and dislikes are a sophisticated and moving target for me.  One day you like feta, the next day you don’t.  The same with peanut butter, spinach, Transformers, tuna and math.  I love that you try new things and that you are not afraid to change your mind.  You will not be married to first impressions and that will serve you well as you go out into the world.

Music runs in your heart.  I am amazed how much you are learning while playing the clarinet in band.  I love that you serenaded us at Thanksgiving and Christmas, unself-conscious and proud of your ability.  I love that for your own “personal enjoyment” you wanted to learn the flute and now you have made a deal with your friends to play the trumpet.  When you were little you used to stretch out in the bathtub and ask me to play Joni Mitchell for you so you could relax.  When we are in restaurants you can identify the type of music playing – jazz, blues, Greek and once even Scottish.  It astounds me that you can hear the music over the cacophony of the everyday.  You are very lucky.

Negotiation is your strong suit.  You never ask “why” and I never say “because”.  You always have to know the logic before you do something.  Sometimes I ask you to pick up your clothes and you say “why, you have hands”.  That is true.  One of my jobs is to teach you that that’s not okay.  I love you for the challenge.

Observation of the people around you makes them feel special and that is a wonderful gift.  When you say to the waitress that you like her hair, or ask someone if they like their job, or compare the looks of someone to an actor on television you are telling people that they are not invisible and I love that you do this.  When you remark that someone looks sad that is such a generous observation and so loving.

People say you are an old soul.  I say you are my son.

Questions are not something you shy away from.  Everything from “give me the advantages and disadvantages to having long hair” to “what is the difference between past tense and pretense?”  I love that you are always thinking and that you come to me with your thoughts.

Reading for a few minutes before you go to sleep is a habit you will have forever.  I love that no matter what time it is, or how early you have to get up the next day, you have to read for even just a couple pages as you settle down for the night.

Saturday night is our traditional dinner together.  We plan the meal, shop for it, cook it together then sit at the table toasting each other and having conversation.  I love these times together when there’s no background noise, just us.  I love that this is important to you.  I love that you want to learn how to load the dishwasher in case your wife asks you to do it in the future.  I love that you let me handle the knives.

Thank you for the wonderful person that you are.  For being so empathetic and compassionate, articulate, caring and thoughtful.  You have such a generosity of spirit that it’s a pleasure to help guide you as you grow into the fine man you are going to become.

Unconditional acceptance and love is what I feel toward you and from you.  People say you don’t know how deeply you can love until you hold your child in your arms the very first time.  I agree.  When they wrapped you up like a burrito in a little striped blanket and laid you on my shoulder, even all these years later I can’t find the words to describe…

Vacations with you are a treat, particularly because you like 5-star resorts.  But you are an equal opportunity vacationer – as long as they have Mario Brothers and room service you’re pretty happy anywhere.  You have a fondness for the Courtyard by Marriott but are not hugely fond of camping – spiders and such.  I love being on vacation with you, even if we do nothing but go out to breakfast and then cuddle.

When you were six weeks old and I was six weeks old we had the same face.  When I was four and you were four we had the same inquisitive and doubtful expressions.  We sound alike on the phone.  We have the same eyes when we are sleeping.

eXpense account is what you think my Mastercard is for you.   Sometimes you have things delivered to my office and you call the receptionist every day to see if they have arrived.  I appreciate that you are polite.  Sometimes you have things delivered right to the house where you wait for them.  You don’t always ask permission but I always find out.  We have discussions about money and I hope you are learning that you don’t just “go to the ATM and get some”.  Everything in time.

You kiss me awake on Sunday mornings; it is a pleasure to open my eyes to your smile.

Zillions of years from now archeologists will find my heart and they will know the deep and unbending love I have for you.  We are a textbook case of connection and every day I am blessed to know you.

(Bellowing Ark, 2009)


Tobi Cogswell is a mom and a poet.  Her fifth chapbook “Lit Up” is newly out from Kindred Spirit Press.  She is a two-time Pushcart nominee and an Editor/Publisher of San Pedro River Review (  While waiting for the proof of the 9th issue to come back from the printer, she posted this blog.