My four year old is boisterous, opinionated, busy and demanding. He is creative, curious, shy of strangers but desires to be a leader. He has no time for cuddles for anyone.
His dad and I do not get snuggles anymore. All six of his grandparents have begun to suspect that they will never be hugged again. They compare him to other children who pass out kisses and hugs with abandon and who will curl up in laps for a story.
I am a toucher, and I wish he was too. But I am learning that we grow by meeting people where they are rather than trying to make them fit our idea of who they should be. This is hard! It is especially difficult right now when my husband and I are thinking that we might not be able to have that second child that we conceived in our imagination. The more office furniture we move into the "baby's room" the more snuggles I seem to want from my son who so dearly values his personal space!
Recently he has asked me to check with him before I give him a kiss. Part of me thinks, "Screw that! I MADE you son, you OWE me!" I want to get all Bill Cosby on his ass. "I brought you into this world..."
But then I think about (I know, I know this is going to be a leap) all of the ways that girls are taught to protect themselves from boys / men who think they have a right to touch others. So, I pull back and respect that in meeting him where he is, we will reinforce that everyone is in charge of his or her own body. When I ask sometimes he says no...sometimes he says, "No thanks, but you can rub my arm, mama." Then he looks truly pleased to be touched. So. Okay.
In this process I have learned to take the love that I get very seriously. This isn't a blasé hug, this is truly something. It's worth it when he makes a happy sigh and says, "I love putting my heart on your heart." Today I scooped him out of the tub and wrapped him in his towel. I was running a little behind on our normal bedtime schedule. But he laid his head on my heart so I sat on the edge of the tub. He said quietly, "Pretend I'm a baby, please."
I rocked my giant baby. His legs dangled into the tub comfortably while his hair soaked my shirt. I sang every sweet song I could remember from the days when I rocked this trusting little baby to sleep every night. He still has the same magic to melt into my body as if my cells recognize having created this beautiful being and make room for him. The Scottish lullaby "Hush a bye burdie" was always one of my favorites and he rested with me as I sang it over and over... I lived inside that delicious moment.
And now he's alone in bed, while I type in the "office." He is gleefully singing to himself, a favorite from Flogging Molly, "As da four winds blow my wits tru da door, it's been the worst day since yesterday!" I'm deeply grateful for everything he is. (Including that he is a kid who likes to rock out to Irish drinking songs.)