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I’m not a touchy-feely kind of guy, not really. I have a small but very close, loyal circle of friends. I hug when people hug and I’m friendly to others; I’m not Ebeneezer Scrooge, not by any means. You have to have some people skills to be a journalist, sure. Still, while I talk a lot about my home life here, it’s not like you get a full picture of me. I like it that way.
But with my family, well, that’s a whole other story. From the moment they were born my kids melted my heart. That may seem typical, sure, but I am the first to admit I could be a bit of a knucklehead. So when these helpless little beings, needing so much care, delicacy and forethought, came into being, some wondered how I’d react. Even more amazing was the fact I took to it like a fish to water.
Which brings me back to the point of contact. I have always been very tactile with my kids. I would feel their foreheads and then follow up with my cheek to do the parent test for a fever. I changed diapers like a pro. When my wife was alive I was hugging her, pecking her on the cheek, and holding her a lot. My kids always saw it.
And I hug and kiss my kids. All . . . the . . . time.
I hadn’t realized how much they appreciated this until I couldn’t do it.
You see, in a wonderfully Job-like set of circumstances I came down with the flu where my kids did not. This after a series of other bugs that weakened my immune system to the point the flu could just walk in and set up shop in my bloodstream. After a month of being sick my insides were more primordial ooze than organs. My kids were told by me and the doctor they had to stay away for their own good.
Now, the worst could have been the lack of my cooking, or cleaning, or even riding them to get homework done. (All three suffered, don’t kid yourself.) But while their father lie in a near coma on the couch they could do no more than sit and watch. Where I normally would chase, tickle, and squeeze them tight I had to ward them away. On more than one occasion my son Noah was headed over and stopped dead.
No delight was more evident on their faces than today when I walked up and gave them a hug. Each of them.
Though I have to admit, I know they cheated. In the middle of the night, about every two hours, I heard the shuffling of little feet, and I pried open my eyes just enough to see a little blonde head peeking into the room, making sure I was still there . . . still breathing. They lost their Mom that fast, to a bug that didn’t normally kill most people. I took a deep breath so he’d hear me and closed my eyes.
Then around 4am I felt it . . . and the little arms wrapped around my back and squeezed just enough. Then he shuffled off to bed himself.
And I couldn’t really get mad at him.
What about you? Do you touch, hug, kiss your kids? Are you keeping them at arm’s lenght or holding them close? Do your kids see you being affectionate to your spouse or significant other? You’d be amazed the message it sends.
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