It's one of my favorite days of the year. Graduation.
There are always several parties scheduled, and this time my granddaughter Montana had volunteered to go along with me to "help carry the gifts" and "get some cake." Our outing had started out less than perfect as Mapquest had sent us to the wrong side of town, a delay which prompted Mo to worry that there wouldn't be any dessert by the time we got there.
I reminded her that this day wasn't about us, that Fort Scott wasn't that big and that we would ultimately find the house, but the longer we traversed the country roads, I could tell she wasn't buying it.
Although not the address we had mapped out as our first stop, we somehow managed to end up at Jenni Wilson's party. Dozens of people were there that afternoon, all to wish the high school senior their congratulations.
Mo knew Jenni from the high school musical and was excited to be a part of her celebration. Shortly after we walked in the front door, we separated, me to talk with my student and Mo to visit the dessert table.
Next thing I knew, my granddaughter was sitting in the living room, eating a piece of cake the size of a small purse. She was, between bites, in deep conversation with the relatives who had gone there to relax. I visited with a few more people before I heard someone say, "Oh, look, that little girl is writing on Jenni's graduation mirror."
Panic time. You see, my granddaughter is brutally honest. Her parents have been mortified on more than one occasion because of lack of tact: "You should be eating more vegetables and less desserts." "I used to think you were really nice but now I don't." You get the point.
By the time I got to Mo, it was too late. Directly above Jenni's picture, in big bold letters, were these words: "I like you." Under that she had written her name.
Kind words. Sweet words. Even Jenni commented on how touched she was by Mo's inscription. I breathed a sigh of relief.
Later that evening I began to think about Mo's words -- "I like you." The other plaque inscriptions included the expected "Congratulations" or "Wishing you the best" and even the over-used "Love ya," but Mo's words seemed to carry a lot more punch. They were innocent and unselfish and genuine and edifying.
1 Thessalonians 5:11 tells us to build each other up. We are to seek ways to encourage one another, and the words "I like you" do just that. This year's graduation experience made me think about the people I care about.
I have no trouble telling them I "love" them, but what would happen if I said I "like" them. I decided to experiment on my husband Dave.
I envisioned his reaction. He would tell me those were the nicest words he had ever heard and that he felt the same about me.
We would hug and I would leave for work purposing to tell even more people I like them (people I actually do like, I mean).
I took a deep breath. "Dave," I began, looking at the back of his head.
"Yeah?" he said, without turning around.
"I LIKE you."
He pivoted slowly and stared at me in silence for a few seconds. Obviously it was taking him a while to get the impact of my compliment.
"Why?" he asked. Well, that certainly wasn't in the Top 100 responses I had anticipated. I didn't know how to respond.
"I don't know. You're part of my experiment. Perhaps I should have thought this through a little better."
"Love ya" has to be a lot less complicated.