Friday, June 09, 2006

Magic Kisses

(Some graphic details follow. Skip to the large break in paragraphs if you are easily made sqeamish).

Mommy kisses are magic kisses for toddlers and small children, and I've always thought it was important that my kids were raised no differently.

My daughter has always been sure to let me kiss the "owies" that really hurt, but since she was four before she felt much of anything below her waist and only in the last year or so has felt much below her knees, she never really had "owies". She's had large open wounds covering both knees that were bandaged in 2"x2" gauze pads and latex-free tape, which she wore underneath her pants so she could continue to crawl from one place to the next (she didn't walk, please remember), but she never complained about those.

And when she was three she had a heel-cord lengthening surgery that she never took one dose of painkiller for, even when the swelling from the surgery receded and her foot moved around enough in the cast to wear through the padding right down to the fiber glass and rubbed a large hole into her heel (ripping out some stitches, I might add, since it was at the spot of the surgery). She never complained about pain (she didn't feel it), and she never asked for magic mommy kisses.

I tell you these graphic details to give you a very solid impression of my daughter's lack of pain (sensation), therefore her lack of need for comfort and reassurances.

My son, on the other hand, bounces off of walls, doors, tables, the floor... in very typical "all-boy" fashion. And somewhere along the line he decided that every small insignificant injury needed a magic kiss. There is something about big blue-grey-green eyes that get to me when they come all sad and wide looking for reassurances and comfort, so I've always given him his magic kiss, and off he goes again.

For example, one day he was playing with his cars, happy as a clam, and he ran one over his hand accidentally when the cars collided in a self-propelled crash. He got up, came toddling over to me crying his lamentations (in a wimpering string of syllables, not in a real cry). He held up his hand to me, so that I would know the exact spot that needed the kiss, I kissed it, and off he went again - silently and quite pleased with himself.

It has always been like this. Magic kisses for the small hurts, sitting in my lap for a minute for the slightly larger hurts, and thus far there have been no catasrophic emergencies. He did scrape his knees open one day, came over for his kiss, crying a bit in confusion as to the real sting caused by the concrete, but went on his way happily after the kiss. Point being I know that he also tolerates pain well, and don't fear I'm creating a "mommy's boy" out of him. Hardly. The brute lives for his daddy. But that's another story.

I've kissed elbows, knees, fingers, hands, arms, legs, shoulders, and all over his head and face from various "war wounds" received in the battle of childhood. All in all, the magic kiss that will remain in infamy long after he's begun dating is the one when he was just learning to walk. He was toddling around on unsure legs and sure enough, trying to do more than he was ready for, and he fell on his diapered behind a bit harder than he expected to. You guessed it... he brought that "owie" for me to kiss, too.

1 comment:

Ginevra Fanshawe said...

Isn't it amazing how easily children's moods can be turned around? It really does seem like magic! My daughters, unfortunately, don't respond like your son to the mommy kiss. My older daughter is kind of a drama queen, and several times when she's scraped her knee, it's led to hours of screaming and wailing and hobbling around. "Could she have had bone damage?" another mother once asked me, obviously disapproving of my bored response to the hysteria. "She really does seem to be in more pain than could be explained by a scrape." "I promise it was just a scrape," I sighed heartlessly.

The worst part is that Band-Aids terrify her even more than the owies that necessitate them (She thinks it will hurt to pull them off). But since most children love Band-Aids, well-meaning people are always hurrying over to offer them to her, triggering a deafening increase in volume. And if you mention ice, you might as well kiss your eardrums goodbye.

On the other hand, both kids are unbelievably soothed, on an emotional level, by hugging and cuddling. My little one still wakes up during the night, and even though I know I'm not supposed to go to her, I can't help myself. My very presence, the touch of my hand, a kiss on her cheek, so obviously fills her with peace and comfort. It would be unbelievably selfish to deprive her of that. I know there is an argument to be made that preventing her from learning how to soothe herself is even more selfish, but cuddling her in the night is just too mutually satisfying for me to give up so soon. She won't feel that way about me forever; someday, she'll have complicated troubles that I won't be able to kiss and hug away.

It sounds as though your son is really well-adjusted. You're doing the right thing!