Saturday, January 10, 2009

. . .

The other day, I took my son to my office after school, helped him with his homework, let him eat some chocolate that had been given to me over the holidays, and bought him a fanzine he begged for at W*l-M*rt. He was over the moon and gazed adoringly at his celebrity crush all the way home.

Then we went home to walk the dogs. On the way, we passed a few businesses and he begged me to buy him something at each one. I said no and he started to cry oh so dramatically as I wrangled our two poop monsters. I decided to ignore him, and after a while he stopped. Great, I thought, peace and quiet. Ha.

"Well, aren't you even going to HUG ME??" he demanded. I was reminded of that scene from Everybody Loves Raymond, when Deborah has raging PMS and angrily asks Ray if he's ever thought of just giving her a hug and in frustration he replies, "THIS...[gesturing toward her wildly hormonal self] is not huggable!" Anyway.

I told the kiddo I was letting him have his space to get himself together. (We've been talking about getting emotions under control and not having tantrums over losing games or being told no.) He's constantly refining his guilt trip tactics, so he mustered up his best shot: "YOU NEVER HUG ME ANYWAY!"

Now, I happen to have a thing about hugging. I have a fond childhood memory of snuggling with my grandma and patting the soft, wrinkled skin on her arm as we talked. I have another memory of putting my head in my aunt's lap (she had no children back then) as she gently twirled my hair with her fingers. My mom must have hugged me, but my only memories of her hugging me are more recent, sort of warmth-less hugs in the past several years. My dad was always doing obnoxious things to us kids, like reaching out and grabbing us when we were on the way to the kitchen. His hugs were almost aggressive, attention-seeking hugs, but he did hug me gently in the urgent care about a year ago as I sat on the exam table and cried and hyperventilated, with my blood pressure hovering around 192 over some equally shocking number. My mom sat in a chair, but she was there. Stories for another post...

But I'm a dedicated hugger when it comes to my son because I want him to remember that his mother hugged him. A lot. And he's mostly receptive to being hugged; he especially loves group hugs, and has said so numerous times. He's always trying to get in on a hug, whether I'm hugging someone in my office, or hugging his dad. (Once again, stories for another post...) So when the kiddo told me I never hugged him, or at least hadn't hugged him that day, I was slightly tweaked. Not mad...just...okay, a little mad, but mostly disappointed. I reminded him that I'd hugged him that very morning when he first woke up, had hugged him a few times when he was at my office, and that I hug him all the time, and if he says I don't ever hug him, I think maybe he doesn't notice or appreciate all the hugs he gets. Then I hugged him and we continued our walk in thoughtful silence for a while. He managed to "turn his frown upside down," as we say, and the rest of the evening was pleasant. When bedtime rolled around, I sat with him in the dark as usual as we talked and he drifted off to sleep.

The next morning, I was on the computer before dawn. I heard Slider's tags jingle, and my son's feet hit the floor. As usual, the kiddo crept into my lap and I hugged him quietly, just like any day. The kiddo closed his eyes, and just for fun, I dipped him. He kept his eyes closed and said nothing for a moment as I watched his little face and wondered if he'd ever know how much I love him.

Just before I set him upright, his eyes still closed, he took a breath: "Yes. I notice."