Sometimes the simplest gestures can mean so much, but in their absence, relationships suffer. One of the things we do as a family to make our home a haven is to practice “puppy dog” greetings. If you’ve ever seen a dog say goodbye with a little “please don’t go” whine, or greet you at the door when you come home, barking and jumping, tail wagging with sheer joy and excitement at the very sight of you, this is the picture of a puppy dog greeting. Think Max from “The Secret Life of Pets” (if you have not seen this movie, make sure you do!)
One of the simplest ways to convey “I love you” is to greet children and other family members with enthusiasm and joy! When you say good morning, when you’re waving goodbye, when a spouse comes home from work, when a child comes home from school. A simple, “Hello!! How was your day? I missed you today!” and a big hug and kiss is just right (adjust as needed for the person’s comfort level – this level of enthusiasm may not go over well with a teenager, but works great for kindergartners J ). Or make sure your loved one gets a hug and a wave as they run out the door.
It’s also really important not to miss your cue. I like to read a book or look at my phone when I’m waiting to pick-up Ellianna from school. But when the time gets close for her to come out of school, I keep my eyes open and the door in my peripheral view. I don’t want to be looking down when she comes out. . One of the biggest keys for me is to put the phone AWAY! Distraction free greetings and goodbyes are so important. I want to be waiting, expectantly, ready to give her a big hug. She usually eagerly returns it.
Shortly after I was married, my dad told me to make sure I greet my husband this way when he comes home. My parents were a big role model to me in this; my mom always prepared for my dad to come home and made a little fuss over him when he did. Their hellos and goodbyes have always been very sweet.
I’m not always perfect and sometimes I do miss my cue. Sometimes my greetings for Andy are more like my cats’ than a puppy dog’s (no where in sight, they come out when they’re ready). Andy on the other hand, is diligent to make sure I’m the first one to get a kiss <3. It’s a value we hold and one to practice – both in the sense that practice makes perfect, and also to make it a practice in our lives.
Weston, our 8 month old, is a great example for me of heart melting greetings. He has the biggest smile and kicks his little legs with joy when he sees his sister, dad or me come through the door. He’s got this thing down!
Our loved ones can be so easy to take for granted. The “puppy dog greeting” practice is a good way to remember to be thankful for them. The days are long, but life is short, and we will not regret one single joyful hello or goodbye.
(Photo sources: Still frame from The Secret Life of Pets movie; http://blog.imgur.com/2016/03/23/happy-national-puppy-day/)