It has been a long while since I was hugging the boys on a regular basis. Feeling the loss made me think back to cuddlier times.
Duncan once wandered over to my kitchen to give me a big hug. Feeling warm and cosy I said,
‘When you are as tall as Uncle Rob (6’5”) will you still hug me’?
Duncan has a long way to grow. Now we hug a lot. I know that as a sensitive teenager he will manage his own hug schedule with whomever he wishes. But if I am not on the list I will miss my hugs. So I put in an early booking for my continued hugs.
‘Yes of course I will Nan’ came the answer. Then a pause. ‘But you might be dead by then’.
The truth sometimes hurts. The clarity of his answer and the pragmatic delivery made my soul sad and my face smile.
‘Ok that is true darling. Will you hug me just before I go then’?
‘Yes Nan, now can we watch TV’.
Hugs help us all
Hugs are an important part of family life. I recollect it being referred to by Princess Diana as an important part of her parenting approach. She was breaking with Royal convention, thankfully the current generation are a lot more focussed on the importance of love, hugs and emotional literacy.
Stiff Upper Lip
I remember from my working days, a colleague who had been to public school. He came from an upper class, wealthy family. From the start of our friendship I always greeted him with a hug. I liked him. It seemed natural. Only after we reached double figures in hugs did he thank me for teaching him to hug. He adored the warmth of a hug and now applies hugs to his life including his children.
The ‘stiff upper lip’ where hugs are omitted or in the post corona days may become a polite shoulder or elbow touch just do not cut the mustard in my world. As to air kisses …. well really don’t bother. A good body hug or a smackeroo on the cheek works for me and most of the working class people I grew up with. Once we were mates we showed it.
Emotional literacy is part of our education. It has to be learnt at home. My friend’s lack of education in this area did him no good. After years of adopting hugs as a way of life he is now a hugging priest.
Men can struggle
Some male relatives can sit with a boy child and not cuddle them. I say to ‘ give X a cuddle’. They respond ‘ OK’ through to ‘ he doesn’t like being cuddled. Oh for goodness sake that is no not the case. It is how it is done that matters. With Duncan and Connor my approach is different to Kevin and Elliot. I will ask the older boys ‘ do you want a cuddle’ or ‘I need a cuddle can I have one’ and they always oblige. My husband tends to start a cuddle with a ‘play fight’. It builds his confidence to cuddle. I think it is the result of a low cuddle upbringing. As you can tell mine was not one of those.
Boys do it naturally
Left to their own devices all my boys will greet family and friends with a hug. They kiss their friends, hold hands with them on a walk. Elliot and Kevin always hug each other when they meet after separate outings. Many times I hear ‘aren’t they sweet’.
The boys’ Dad is always ready for a ‘family hug’ which is a ritual which can be called for by any one of the boys. Dad’s first call on arriving home is ‘ who wants a snuggle’. I wonder how the greeting will be received when they are teenagers. Now I am building a great foundation.
- Make hugs part of everyday family life
- Hugs are loved by boys and girls alike
- Hugs are part of the nurturing that makes a well rounded adult
- Be careful not to impose as the children grow.
- If any child says they do not want a cuddle, or wriggles away respect it
- Don’t invite strangers to cuddle the children.