From day one, Davis was a baby
on-the-go. He hated being
held. He was happiest when he
could move, stretch, kick and feel
space around him. As a baby, the
only time Davis would stay still
was during a feeding.
As he grew up, there were
few cuddles. We could get them
when he was tired, sick or really
interested in a movie or television
show. Otherwise, we were all to
stand clear. Goodnight kisses and
back scratches were okay but we
were not to put our arms around
him – he didn’t like the feeling.
He likes it when we are close
to him, even holding his hand,
or playing with his hair, but as
soon as the arm goes around the
shoulder, he feels confined.
Now that he is seven, his
affection has taken on a
boisterous tone. He runs and
attacks (he calls them running
hugs) but I still feel like prey that
has just been pounced on by a
lion. He tends to poke or grab but
is hardly ever gentle. He playwrestles
with Paul all the time
and loves that kind of interaction.
There is one little window of
opportunity. As soon as Davis
is finished eating his meal, he
comes and gives Paul and me
a very sweet cuddle (perhaps a
hangover from the stillness of
his baby feedings?). We always
laugh and say “here come the full
belly hugs.” That is one of the few
times that a hug is offered!
I don’t give up. Every morning
I ask for my hug before he goes to
school and every night I ask for
my hug when I get home. He rolls
his eyes and gives me the best
hug he can. These hugs can only
happen at home. I am not allowed
to show any affection outside the
house. Davis wants the world to
think that he lives alone!
When we go skating together,
we glide around the ice
separately. No endearing handholding
for us. Paul skates fast,
I’m mediocre, and Davis just
wants to be left alone. Quality
family time? I think not!
I am affectionate and so is
Paul, but Davis just isn’t into it.
We’ve learned that that’s OK. He
likes us around, he loves doing
things with us but when it comes
to cuddles and hugs, we take
them when and where we can.
Expert Advice ~ Sara Dimerman says:
Everyone has a different feeling for the amount of physical space that is
comfortable between one another. Some people enjoy sitting next to
or in the same room as their family members, but begin to wriggle with
discomfort if you invade their personal space. Sometimes you can predict
at a very young age whether your child will be a cuddler or a little more
distant. However, even children who once were comfortable with being
very close to their parents when little, often pull back in the presence of
their peers as they grow. This pulling away is not typically a refl ection of
their feelings toward you, but simply a normal developmental change as
children work towards increased autonomy and independence. So try not
to take their actions personally. Respect your child’s need for increased
space and when you are allowed in, enjoy every single moment.
Originally published in ParentsCanada magazine, April 2013.