When I was thinking about the whole big kids/little kids thing, I remembered something I hear all the time, which is how little babies and toddlers are so cuddly, cuddly, cuddly, and then big kids don’t want to cuddle.
Well, yes, okay. Sort of true. It would be lovely if there were a happy medium between the baby who wants to be touching you at all times (Jezebel’s post on Alicia Silverstone reminded me of this–basically saying, gosh , that sounds annoying. Except–fair warning–she says it more colorfully).
My sweet little J has always been a cuddle bug. Her affection is not constant, but they can be fierce. She remains fully open to hugs and cuddles.
M, who spent much of her first two years either in my arms or sobbing because she wasn’t in my arms, has cooled considerably over the years. She’s stoic, and she prides herself on being self-sufficient. But she needs a little affection, too. So I got tricky.
We play a game called “100 Kisses,” which is from Lawrence Cohen’s book Playful Parenting. Details are at the link, but basically, you tell your child that you’re going to give her 100 kisses, and then you do. As cheesy as this sounds, the game became a favorite, and we still play it occasionally, especially when she’s had a bad day.
I also give M a little bedtime back rub most nights. J gets her share of cuddles, too, but it’s not as much of a formula as with M. M summons me each night when she turns out the light after reading, so it can be a bit of a drag sometimes. But I’ve discovered that the combinations of her sleepiness and her intense desire to continue the massage makes her much more communicative than usual.
Finally, I’ve said before that I like New Moon Girl Magazine, and they have a “Girl to Girl” advice column. One of the recent letters was so moving. It was from a 10-year-old girl who said, “I feel that I’m developing too fast, and I really wish I was a little kid again. I feel sad a lot. I also get this weird feeling when I’m around my mom: I want to hug her (I love her a lot!), but then I feel too embarrassed.” What followed were several encouraging responses from peers giving all sorts of variations on empathetic and kind advice that generally included, “Just hug your mom!”
Anyway, I love that column specifically for its insight into the tween mind, and I’ve upped my hugging activity significantly in the weeks since I’ve read that letter. It’s funny, because I remember hanging around with other mothers, and their big, huge kids would climb up into their laps, or I’d see pictures of moms with huge kids on their laps, and it seemed sort of weird to me. And I don’t think my girls would tolerate it in mixed company. But around the house, lately I’ll just grab them and squeeze like crazy. The girls know that they can always cry “Banana” if they really don’t want the cuddles.
But, come to think of it, these days they rarely do say “Banana.”