Victoria Beckham recently got a lot of flak for kissing her daughter and this got me thinking about my relationship with my son. He is now nearly 10 years old and we still hug, hold hands, and kiss daily – hourly in fact when I can – the more the better in my opinion. To me it comes naturally and it is my way of showing affection. I am sure there is a lot of research behind affection that I could insert here which shows correlations to X, Y, and Z but I can’t be bothered because in my mind the more affection we can show our children the better, end of story.
The thing about growing up is how quickly momentous “milestones” are relinquished to the dark recesses of our memory. What were the first words my son said? When was the first time he walked? When was the last time we changed his diaper? Or the last time I picked him up to carry him somewhere? There is always one last time though we might not remember it as such. So now Dawn and I live with the knowledge that maybe one day our son won’t want to hold our hand anymore, or be hugged and kissed in public, and I don’t know that we are ready for that yet.
My dad was a kisser and a hugger and I remember that other people used to give him flak, but my dad being my dad he didn’t much care for other people’s opinions. Kissing and hugging was a family tradition if you will, and even when his kids were all grown up and bonafide adults, we still couldn’t leave the family house without giving him a big fat kiss (on the cheeks mind you).
No doubt growing up there were times when this embarrassed me, specially those late high-school and early college years when you think you are too cool for school; but whether through Pavlovian conditioning, the path of least resistance, or a fear of disapproval I continued with hugging and kissing dad all the while thinking to myself “when I am a dad I will never …” but now I get it. He was just trying to hold on to his kids for as long as he possibly could, knowing they would eventually grow up but hoping that inside they never would.
As of the time of this writing it has been just over a year since my dad’s passing. The letter below is a scribble he wrote me in 1982, when I was just four years old, a testament to his love for me and the reasons for all those hugs and kisses we gave each other throughout our lives – the very same reasons that I hope will be passed on to our son with every hug and kiss we give him. A sense of family. Now I get it. Grazie Papa’. And to all of those criticizing Victoria Beckham, time to check your moral compass. If anything, she deserves praise for showering her child with affection.
And if you are curious for a translation of the note my dad wrote me here it is:
I love you a lot, together with your mom. You are beautiful, strong, and intelligent, and to me you are all my world. I will work hard, to educate you appropriately according to my possibilities. In you I see the continuation of myself and of my name. I kiss you and salute you.
Langano (Ethiopia) Sept. 29, 1982