Friday, December 12, 2008
Hugs and Snoodles
**Warning: sappy post**
It was all started by a book, as many good things in my life are.
I have never been a "Huggy" person or a "touchy-feely" person. Probably because my mother wasn't either. Not that I didn't love my children, but somewhere around their second birthday, I just didn't actively think about hugging and snuggling them any more.
That all changed the summer I read "Missing May" by Cynthia Rylant. It is about an orphan girl who has been passed from relative to relative until she is taken in by a couple named May and Ob.
"...the first time I saw Ob help May braid her long yellow hair, sitting in the kitchen one night, it was all I could do not to go to the woods and cry forever from happiness. I know I must have been loved like that, I must have; otherwise, how could I even recognize love when I saw it that night between Ob and May? ....[My Mother] must have known she wasn't going to live and she must have held me longer than any other mother might, so I'd have enough love in me to know what love was when I felt it again."
I spent several hours after reading that imagining how if I took in an orphan how I would hold her and sing to her every night and tell her how much her mother had loved her. Suddenly I thought, "I don't even do that for my own children." Yikes! So after that, I started remebering to hug my kids when they got home from school. And instead of saying, "Last one in bed gets a spanking," I said, "First one in bed gets a snoodle." Actually, everyone gets a snoodle, but it still works every time. They all go running and laughing to bed for the honor of the FIRST snoodle.
What, you may ask, is a snoodle? Well is is a cross between a kiss and a raspberry. You start about 2 feet away from your child and make those kissy smoochy noises as you get closer and closer and suddenly plant a whole bunch of little kisses on that tickly part of their neck. Admittedly, I have had my face smashed a couple of times by a wriggling giggling child, but it is worth it.
Here's what I found: our family is happier. Hugs make the hard parts of the day work better, like in the morning getting ready for school, at bedtime, any other stressful time. When I say "no," to my 4 -year old and she starts wailing, instead of saying something like, "stop that awful noise," or the old "Stop crying or I'll give you something real to cry about," I just hug her. I don't give in and give her what she wants, but I do hug her. I let her know that I understand it's tough when we don't get our way. After all, I have seen many an adult (including myself) throw a tantrum because they can't have what they want. Working from a viewpoint of empathy is so much more effective than working from the angle of force and control.