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Monday, November 10, 2008

Hugs and Cuddles and Things That Make You Feel Sick

I don't quite remember when Erin started giving hugs voluntarily instead of out of self-defense as her mom or I tried to squeeze her joy into the world. And I don't remember when she started running up to us and hugging our legs just below the knees.

There was a gap, a long period in which she was no longer helpless (and so couldn't struggle away from us), but too excited about exploring the world to remember to return to us, her lifegivers, and reward us with some spontaneous affection.

She does offer up the occasional hug now. And she'll lean in with a kiss and a loud "mah!" When she hugs she says "awww" and pats my shoulder as if to reassure me: "You are doing a good job, guys." But she still isn't a stay-at-home-kid. She isn't one to sit in a lap and watch the world.

She owns the world, and she needs to explore her fiefdom as often as possible.

We know other toddlers who are much more willing to sit with mom or dad. Erin is wriggly. She learned the word "down" and she isn't afraid to use it. We wonder sometimes what the world is like for parents who have stay-close kids. Who, when they put their toddler down in the middle of a patch of grass she doesn't immediately run to the edge and try to leap into the street. Do they feel more rested? My legs get tired chasing that kid around.

Her daycare teachers described her as "busy" after her first day. I think that was polite code for "what are you feeding her?" or possibly "You will have to teach her to settle down and eat her snack or she will always come home with milk on her shirt."

As of this weekend though, proving that parents are rewarded for patience, we've figured out what slows Erin down and turns her into a cuddling homebody: a fever of 102.

She developed a fever over the weekend and she's been adorably, uncharacteristically needy. Emily wanted to keep her up late just to get in more hug time, because Erin has been laying out on our chests like she hasn't done since she was a squalling infant. She'll rest up a little, then get playful again, then get tired and crawl up into a lap. And today was the first time in months that she has fallen asleep in my arms.

I miss that, so much. I'm not sure I miss it "watch a fever of 102 for a couple of days and listen to the occasional miserable whimper" much. But a lot.

I love that kid. I don't want her to be sick. I want her to go off and own the world again. But those spans of time when she forgets to dish out some spontaneous affection had better abbreviate. I don't want to have to carry a vial of flu virus around with me when she's in high school just to make sure I get a hug before prom.

(Editor's Note: I figured that I kind of owed a daddy blogger post. Especially since this site was inexplicably included in Sweetney's 10 Favorite Dad Blogs and On Teens Today's Top 50 Dad Blogs list. Sweetney's list I understand because I can and will quote from Dr. Horrible's Sing-a-long Blog at the drop of a hat and that makes me objectively awesome. But the On Teen's Today list was a real surprise. Teens care what dads think? I hope that stays true for at least 18 more years.)


Whit said...

It sucks to have sick kids, but there is a certain sweetness to it.

Congrats on your outdoorsy listing(s).

Ashlie- Mommycosm said...

Aww....we just experienced something similar with both of our kids this weekend. The Plague hit and they were uuber cuddly with their fevers and sickness. Almost makes me wish they were still little and squishy again and we could just sit around and hold them all day.

Some would say that this very reason is why you end up having more than one kid...but I'm beyond that at this point. Can't imagine being outnumbered when The Plague hits, at least now my husband and I can divide and conquer.

Hope she is feeling better and running you ragged again soon!

for a different kind of girl said...

My boys are at the point with their affections now that in order for me to get a hug, I must tuck M&Ms (plain for my oldest, peanut for my youngest) behind my ears, and even then, there is a great deal of bartering involved. However, a few weeks ago, my youngest was so tired at the end of the day, he surprised me by crawling atop my lap, wrapping his arms around my neck and falling asleep with his head nestled in the curve of my neck. I refused to allow my husband to pick him up and carry him up to bed, instead sitting with him like that for an hour. Pretty damn awesome.

Dana Whitaker said...

The Elder Son is like that, with the not cuddling and perpetual motion and such. When he's sick, he sometimes wants to be babied, though. The Younger Son is all climb-y affection, and still orders us to hoist him up to be hugged (and so he can touch the ceiling) despite the damage it may do to our backs. And The Daughter is just too old and sick of me to even consider being hugged or cuddled, what with being so close to teenaged years.

I hope everyone is well soon.

Mary Helen said...

I do love it when they're cuddly, although it sucks that they're sick.

ashlie-mommycosm is totally right. This is why I had a second kid, although she is the one who never slows down long enough for more than a drive-by hug. Last night she feel asleep in her car seat and stayed asleep on me for almost an hour after work. I convinced my husband to fix dinner for her big sister so I could soak up the cuddle. Nom nom.

sorel top said...

my daughter has always been called "busy." she sounds very similar to erin. at 7, she hasn't slowed down. she now has a quick wit to go with her ever moving body. she backs into hugs with mom although she's still very much daddy's girl. i too enjoy when she's sick and i deliberately take work off to care for her even though grandma and dad are at home. that's when we have some of the best talks and cuddle time. i'm trying to find other things to do together to find that bonding without her being sick.

Colleen (ladyeunicorn) said...

We are lucky parents. Though Munchkin is a social butterfly and runs whenever he gets the chance (being an only child can do that to you), and he has an insatiable curiosity, he is VERY affectionate. We have nightly snuggles at 11 years old. I know I'm very blessed.

kaila said...

If there aren't bribes involved, I don't get much from my little guy either. He's all about the group hug, but it's just an excuse to tickle somebody (namely me). He did crawl into my lap last week, for the first time in FOREVER and fell asleep. I let him stay until his body weight was killing me. Unfortunately they don't stay little hug-bunnies forever.

Kei said...

Awww... Hope she is better soon. As for cuddly kids, well, just the other day, my 18 yr old son came up and put his arm around me and his head on my shoulder for no particular reason. I still get that from his older sibs too.

So there's hope BPD.. they don't always have to be sick for the cuddle.

Momo Fali said...

I love it when me kids occasionally fall asleep in my arms. But, my daughter is almost 10, when means my arms fall asleep and feel numb for quite some time...but, it's still worth it.

Heather said...

Both of my older kids have always been "busy" too. I can still get hugs and kisses if I request them though. Sitting still for any length of time requires the flu though, you're right.

Heather said...

Both of my older kids have always been "busy" too. I can still get hugs and kisses if I request them though. Sitting still for any length of time requires the flu though, you're right.

Jenni said...

Oscar is a cuddle muffin. Yes, he's all over the place, climbing on things, trying to kill himself, etc., but he always brings it home for a kiss or a hug when you least expect it. And he LOVES to sit on laps and read books. Okay, mostly he likes to jump off your lap, bring you a book, read it for one minute, then bring you a new book, but still.

Swirl Girl said...

One of my girls (the older one ) is as Erin is..wriggly and not a spontaneous cuddler. I wish she was.

The little one is the exact opposite. She loves being hugged and cuddled and to hold hands as we walk. I am selfish and I love that about her.

With or without a fever - we need to give our kids what they need.

Carol said...

More teens (and non parents) read parenting blogs than you'd think--maybe most of your commenters are parent bloggers, but my friends and I are all in our early 20s and discovered a shared love for reading about toddler hijinks. (It's a strange hobby of choice, I know).

Anonymous said...

I know how you feel. We've been away from home for a few bedtimes recently, so I've had Doodle pass out in my arms. The sweetness of it all makes the backache TOTALLY worth it.

SciFi Dad said...

I hope she's back to her usual self soon. Being sick sucks, no matter who you are.

MelADramatic Mommy said...

The day my son stops with the unsolicited "Mama I love you so much," or "You look beautiful today" is the day my heart will shatter into a million tiny pieces. I hope the little lady feels better soon.

mumma boo said...

Cenzo has discovered the power that his yells for "mo kisses!" has over us and uses it to his every advantage. We're helpless in the face of such overwhelming cuteness. The time will come when he's pushing us away, but until then, I'll take the longer bedtimes and extended goodbyes.

Hope Erin feels better soon! (and that the hug/cuddle side effects linger on long after she's feeling better)

Lori said...

I will admit that sometimes I like it when my kids are sick. Not that I want them to be in pain or anything, but I like the fact that they are quite and still for a little bit.

kittenpie said...

Oh, poor muffin. They ARE sweet when they are sick, and it's good because it makes you want to love them and pamper them and help them get better so thy can run again.

Corina - Down to Earth Mama said...

I have both a son and daughter that are like that, most of the time. Actually, my two year old son is bipolar when it comes to cuddles. Actually, come to think of it again, maybe he isn't. He just wants to use me as another piece of furniture to climb over and the humor that follows when he kicks me in the eye.

As for my daughter, you know there is something terribly wrong when she comes and gives us hug. That's what you get for raising independent kids I guess.

Miss Grace said...

Nauseatingly cute. In a good way.

Anonymous said...

Suburban Turmoil (not me) blogged about this very thing months ago. It's a shared guilty pleasure for parents of "busy" toddlers, I guess. It makes me think (in the liking something about an otherwise undesirable situation) of the fact that I actually enjoy having food poisoning (though not enough to get it on purpose) because the bowel turmoil feels a lot like a small part of the internal physical activity I could feel when I was pregnant with my twins.

1sttimedad said...

My 16-month-old daughter refuses to cuddle, even when sick. She just runs, from the second she gets out of bed to the minute we stick her 'good night' bottle in her mouth.

But you're right, when you get an unexpected hug or kiss ... man, there's no better feeling in the world.

I'm new to the site, and a (former) backpacker and new dad too, so I'll be back!

Backpacking Dad said...

Whit: Yeah. That was awesome :}

ashlie-mommycosm: I can't wait for the next one. I remember the cuddling days.

FADKOG: that's a good sign for our future here.

dana whitaker: everyone is much better now.

mary helen: nom nom indeed.

sorel top: let me know when you've figured it out :}

colleen (ladyunicorn): Yeah you are :}

kaila: I'm going to have to figure out some bribes.

kei: that is good news :}

momo fali: yet another reason to feel guilty about not going to the gym

heather: or a tranquilizer.

jenni: Erin does the book thing too

swirl girl: I kind of hope the next one is the opposite.

carol: that is an awesome hobby :} And not something I ever would have thought of doing when I was young and could get into bars for the first time :}

fandinplv: word.

scifi dad: yeah, she is now.

mel a dramatic mommy: I can't wait for her to start telling me how good I look :}

mumma boo: Ack. She figured out "push".

lori: yep. vial of flu.

kittenpie: Oh, is that what I'm pampering her for? :} Seems kind of self-defeating if you ask me.

corina--down to earth mama: Yeah. Hugs are a danger sign right now.

miss grace: Yes :}

anonymous: Best comment so far: I like food poisoning :} (And I don't know why you're anonymous unless you don't want to be seen slummin' it over here :}, in which case I understand perfectly. )

1sttimedad: well, welcome aboard :}

Anonymous said...

Not "slumming" (you're one of only a dozen blogs I keep up with fairly regularly). I just have too many IDs & passwords to keep up with in my line of work to take on new ones recreationally. I just never comment on any of those dozen blogs that don't accept anonymous comments.

Backpacking Dad said...

Anonymous: cracking up. I know what it's like to have too many IDs. Thanks for reading :}

motherbumper said...

Woah - so how I feel about cuddly sick kids is normal? Wow, we are crazy parents for loving sick time. You said it waaaaay better than my feeble attempt.

Rhea said...

My boys were both sick today, and while the change of pace is nice, it SUCKS seeing them this way. Not worth it.

I'm totally gonna make my kids start calling me their lifegiver. Forget Mom or Mama...I'm Lifegiver now. I like it.

Kaza said...

I so get this. Our kidlet is a squirmer too, always on the go, and we're lucky to catch a quick hug. But when she's sick? Cuddle time. It's the only good thing about what is otherwise heartbreaking to watch and a disaster for our everyday lives.

Anonymous said...

From the non-slumming 'anonymous' -- Since you said "Thanks for reading :}" I thought you might be interested to know that of the dozen blogs I read, you share my 'Top 4' with 'wwdn In Exile' and it was you who led me to Wil's blog when you posted that pic from the convention.

Backpacking Dad said...

motherbumper: I don't think I'd call either of us "normal" :}

rhea: my dad used to try to get us to call him "O Captain my Captain".

Kaza: word.

Anonymous: Awesome. I win at blog :}