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Hugs are fun when your children are little


When our kids were little, they’d jump on my lap without being asked. They stretched their little arms up for a hug, turning their sweet, flowery faces up for a kiss. Their arms wrapped tightly around my neck, and we’d stay that way until I couldn’t breathe anymore, squishing each other and laughing.

Fast forward a decade or so, and things are quite different. For one, my son is taller than I am, and he has this annoying habit of trying to sneak out of the house without giving me a hug.

“Get back here,” I’ll say, false menace filling my voice. “Hugs give you vitamins and minerals.”

The first time I tried that line, he hoisted an eyebrow, clearly skeptical of this time-honored truism.

The second time I rolled it out, he rolled his eyes, but he gave me a hug anyhow…sort of.

Frankenstein was played by Boris Karloff

Hugs, anyone?

In their mid and late teens, the kids are giving me what I call Frankenhugs. Imagine getting a hug from Frankenstein – stiff and lurchy, arms rigidly extended in an elbow-locked hug devoid of enthusiasm.

I exaggerate…but not by much.

I don’t know when Frankenhugs arrived on the scene – I just remember the joyful, exuberant hugs of old drying up, blowing away like dusty, distant memories. As the kids grew, they’d throw one arm around my neck, followed by a kiss on the cheek.

Then the hugs became side-only affairs, hips touching, followed by a peck planted somewhere on the wall behind me.

I guess Frankenhugs were a natural extension of this, representing the kids’ emerging independence. They’ll give their grandma real hugs, pausing so she can rub them on the cheek and say something sweet before they leave. A real misty moment. But mom? Nah – I’ve been demoted to Frankenhugs, left feeling like a victim of some strange, near-miss kiss.

Back up to when our kids were little – we’d often visit my grandma, who lived in a nursing home. As we were leaving one day, grandma said “you know, everybody thinks I’m living my golden years now.”

Puzzled, I asked her what she meant, because, really, I was one of those people who equated retirement and advanced age with a “golden” time. No worries, plenty of time and money – what’s not to like? Go, grandma, go!

“When I look back on my life, my golden years were the years I spent raising my kids, not my life now,” my grandma said.

Hmmm…Maybe the Frankenhugs aren’t so bad after all.