Likely the most personally useful books I've read in a lifetime of gluttonous reading were Nancy J. Napier's Recreating Yourself & Getting Through the Day, consumed at the instruction of my then-therapist.
They upended my world by noting that the things parents say to children over and over- the scripts the recite- takes on the power of scripture later in their life. I started noticing how many of my reflexive first responses to events were negative, and tracing them back to my childhood. As revelations go it was destabilizing, sobering and also freeing, and is one of the therapy-driven insights that led more or less directly to the 'creation' of Fuss by undermining my lifelong opposition to having children.
With that under my belt I've always been conscious of what I say to him. I'm far from enlightened and know that I harp way too much on negatives and that my reflexive repsonses to many things are still miles from being useful or constructive, but at least I catch myself and apologize for it.
Not ideal, but better than nothing.
Anyway, one thing I've always, always called him, more than anything else aside from 'Fuss', is 'beautiful'. Usually as part of the construction "beautiful boy", but often just by itself.
Once at a cousins house a girl pulled a face and asked me why I called him beautiful.
"Because he is," I answered with a shrug.
This morning the shirt I'd picked out had picked up a sour tang from too long in the washing machine so I doffed it in favor of a dressier model, white with purple stripes.
"Oooh, Dada, you look BEAUTIFUL!" Fuss exclaimed.
How we see our kids becomes how they view others, and what we say to them becomes the vocabulary they use to describe their world.
This morning, I felt like a good parent.