Stories and Snuggling
March 2, 2011
I am a reasonably affectionate person. I must say, though, that it is not really my personality bent to hug friends excessively. I’m not averse to giving friends a hug when I see them, but I really don’t need a hug from people, if you know what I mean.
With my children, it is a lot easier to give plenty of hugs and touches. Human development classes and child-rearing books reiterate how important, even crucial it is to give plenty of physical affection to children. I’m realizing though, that the older my children get, it feels a little less natural and comfortable to grab them and hug, nuzzle their cheeks, kiss their foreheads. My little Bridget? I can hardly keep from constantly sweeping her up in my arms to hug and tickle and squeeze. But Lucy, my sweet, lovely 12-year-old… well, it just doesn’t flow as naturally. She’s just about as tall as me. It just feels different. And yet I know it’s still so important.
Recently, I’ve hit upon a good way to ensure that plenty of snuggling happens. Reading aloud, side-by-side, on her bed with a blanket tucked around both of us.
Lucy is an amazing reader. The child devours books like a flame devours a dry stick of wood. But, who really gets too old or sophisticated to not enjoy being read to? So, I’ve been reading the Jonathan Rogers’ Wilderking Trilogy to her recently. Right now we’re on the third installment, The Way of the Wilderking.
She loves this time. And I do too. She is resentful and annoyed if one of her sisters comes in while we’re reading. “This is Mom and me time,” she informs them airily if they intrude.
Not only is this cozy, slow-down and snuggle time, but the content of this good story is helping us to connect in new ways too.
We recently listed our house for sale and Lucy, of all the kids, is the most reluctant to move. She dislikes change, she loves having her own room, she worries about the future. So, while I read aloud and come across passages like, “You do what you have to do. We all do. Life in the canyons isn’t what I had expected, but it’s a very good life in its way,” Lucy and I look at each other meaningfully and talk about how this truth applies to our lives. In the book, the silly and profound and hilarious character of Dobro, a “feechie” in the story (I can’t explain, just read the book!) keeps retelling an old feechie tale that ends with the words “Time to leave these neighborhoods.” Lucy and I have begun saying this to each other whenever selling-the- house-talk comes up, or when we’ve looked at some townhomes we might try to purchase. It’s softened the blow, a bit, to have this shared story to laugh about and apply this little saying to our situation.
The power of Story! And the magic of snuggling! Even snuggling a somewhat-awkward-but-still-awesome-kid-who’s-nearly-a-teenager.