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Finger touches

My daughter is a hugger and a kisser. She throws her arms around you and gives big, squeezy embraces with smoochy lip smacks. My son is another story.

He's always been less willing to have affection shown to him...he usually pulled away...and his attempts at giving affection were usually over-enthusiastic--bordering on aggression--with jumping on you and hitting as his way to show love. I suspect a great many families, especially with boys, have a similar situation. They're more prone to sensory, motor, and development issues anyway. Combined with gender differences, it can sometimes lead a parent to wonder what is wrong. To us, our son seemed a bit cold and aloof while other parents were getting big, gloppy "I love yous."

Which is where the "finger touch" came into being. Even forehead kisses from The Mama were too much just a year ago. So our family started a less "affectionate" tradition of saying goodnight...the ET-style finger press. Known in the family as "finger touches." It's like a high-five only a little slower and softer with an underlying "all is well" meaning. It has come to substitute for "I love you," "goodnight," "goodbye," and is no longer exclusive to my son. Everybody--my affectionate daughter, too--now uses it as an in-group signal that is just ours. Well, if your family wants to use it too we won't complain!

As I've written previously, my son has made some pretty drastic changes to his behavior--for the better--and one of the things that has slowly developed is his emotional maturity. He's still not a "throw his arms around you" kid, but he'll run up and give you smoochy kisses...on your arm. And he's become much more willing to stand still for a hug. In fact, that's generally what will happen if you ask for a hug. You'll be doing the hugging, but he'll willingly allow it.

But the biggest change is probably the gushy way he shares his feelings more easily (completely betraying his Swiss/German heritage if you ask me! lol) from anger to joy. He concentrates more on happiness and whether he and others are feeling it. He expresses love for his family...including his sister! And, perhaps weirdest of all for us, is that he now enjoys "snugs" at bedtime and in the morning. He frequently wants company sitting by him for his bedtime snack after storytime. Or while he watches cartoons in the morning. His mom and I have even allowed him to come "check on us" in the morning when he wakes up. So he comes running into our room, climbs into bed, and assumes his middle spot on a pink pillow that is "his." On weekends that are not school night's, he's allowed to fall asleep in the "big bed" even so that he can curl up next to us for sleeping. Although the parents both agree he is a rather restless sleeper. It's amusing to read the stories of other parents who can't seem to get their kids out of their bed. We're coming from the other direction--happy to have an affectionate son who wants to bond with us.

So the finger touch tradition has become a bit of a relic. Which makes it even more special. It's no longer necessary yet we all still hold onto it as a family ritual. In the back of my head, I wonder how long it will last. Maybe another month? Maybe until they're moving out for college? Who knows. It's just nice to have the connection.

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