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"Longer, Daddy.. .Longer" by John Trent.

Recently, a woman grabbed my arm at a conference after I had finished speaking on the enormous need we all have for affirmation.

"Dr. Trent, may I tell you my story?" she asked. "Actually, it’s a story of something my son did with my granddaughter that illustrates what you’ve been talking about - the importance of affirmation.

"My son has two daughters, one who’s five and one who is in the ’terrible twos’." When a grandmother says this child is in the "terrible twos," believe me, she is!

"For several years, my son has taken the oldest girl out for a ’date’ time, but he had never taken the two-year-old until recently. On his first ’date’ with the younger one, he took her out to breakfast at a local fast food restaurant.

"They had just gotten their pancakes when my son decided it would be a good time to tell this child how much he loved and appreciated her."

"Jenny," her son had said, "I want you to know how much I love you, and how special you are to Mom and me. We prayed for you for years, and now that you’re here and growing up to be such a wonderful girl, we couldn’t be more proud of you."

Once he had said all this, he stopped talking and reached over for his fork to begin eating . . . but he never got the fork to his mouth.

His daughter reached out her little hand and laid it on her father’s hand. His eyes went to hers, and in a soft, pleading voice she said, "Longer, Daddy...longer."

He put down his fork and proceeded to tell her some more reasons and ways they loved and appreciated her, and then he again reached for his fork. A second time...and a third...and a fourth time he heard the words, "Longer, Daddy...longer."

This father never did get much to eat that morning, but his daughter got the emotional nourishment she needed so much. In fact, a few days later, she spontaneously ran up to her mother and said, "I’m a really special daughter, Mommy. Daddy told me so."

Stories for the Heart, compiled by Alice Gray, Multnomah Books, c. 1996, p. 153.