To Hugh Jackman a big hug from his daughter is the antidote to whatever wrong happened to him in a whole day, and he is right to feel like that. Hugs simply strengthen the bond among the family and make us all forget whatever challenges we face in our daily life. However, to hug or not to hug is a perplexing question. While some kids love to kiss and hug their parents’ relatives, some are shy enough to only give a smile and hide behind the Mom and from this starts an interesting discussion.
This didn’t occur to me before I took my son, 2 and daughter, 3 to a trip to some relatives that they have never been to. I have always been considered a cute in kid in my family and let me tell you that this does not come without some disadvantages. A cute kid is someone who everyone loves to hug, kiss and talk to. Another problem of cute kids is how they are told that they must move the mountains and marry some cute person to make sure that their kids are even cuter. So, since the day my toddlers became a little less messy, I was planning this trip and finally we were on it.
At my aunt’s home, the kids received the proper reception that they were supposed to get. My aunt and uncle were very happy with these two cute kids playing around them and it was totally a fluke of laughter and singing and whatnot. Finally the evening came knocking our doors and I packed up everything to go back to my home before night. Kids reluctantly received the gifts that my uncle and aunt bought for them and it was the time to bid farewell. I looked at my kids and let them know that they could shake hands or give a hug if they felt like it. My daughter hugged my aunt and while my son reluctantly chose to hide behind me.
And this is what changed a perfect good-bye moment for worse. My uncle made a childish face as though he was going to start sobbing any moment and tried to reach out to my son to get a much wanted hug from a cute kid. It was that awkward moment that made me utter those words that I didn’t even think of.
“I am really sorry Uncle, my kids are not prone to forced hugs or kisses. It’s not personal, but I never let anyone force their emotions on my kids – no offense.”
Now, if you think that after this awkward moment and even more awkward declaration of independence, everything went well, we bid farewell to each other and set for our home on an hour’s distance to enjoy a perfect sleep, then you definitely live in Lala land.
My uncle kind of overreacted. I won’t blame him: my paternal uncle, because I know the tradition he comes from is of kissing kids, hugging them and even friendly poking them in ribs. He felt as though his affection was turned down and as though I was playing a proud and arrogant Mom. This time he took a stubborn tactic and tried to reach out my son again.
I had to intervene again and this time my explanation was more of a meek appeal.
“Uncle they’re a bit harassed. I bet they have started to think that you’ll cry if they won’t let you kiss them or hug them, but believe it that they are not ready to mix up with you even though you are family. Let us meet frequently so they may get friendly with you.”
I said this and literally grabbed my kids and rushed towards the door. I clearly did not have the guts to argue with my uncle and try in vain to make the point. I was not willing for someone to emotionally manipulate my kids for their own pleasure, knowing that my kids do not approve it.
I mean this is where I totally lose my control and I do not know how not to offend someone and yet make my point very clear to them. It’s like using a lion-hunting gun to scare a few crows. It’s like telling family to adore my kids, but not too much. See, it’s a perplexing situation where one wants people to admire and appreciate one’s kids without violating the kids personal space.
I must admit, I am more prone to black or white areas, and grey area has been sort of no man’s land for me. And this is one hell of a grey area. I cannot recall a single moment when I tried to stop people from getting too close to my kids, without ending up on insulting or hurting them. It’s a necessary evil. In a family where there is no concept of a kid’s personal space and choice, and every kid is supposed to be kissed and hugged and pampered, it is hard to convince people that your kids do not want to give up their autonomy.
I must learn to make this clear that just like there are cat people and dog people, there are kids who love to hug and there are those who do not love to hug. I must learn to convey this to even elderly relatives that it is not must for my kids to receive their love in form of uneasy hugging, kissing and poking, but there can be plenty of sensible and creative ways to show affection. Each and every kid has a key; my kids would fall for a decent rhyme and when it comes to showing their affection, they do this also through rhymes. So, who is up for some good rhymes coming from some very cute kids?