cats in the cradle…

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A few years back, the doll used to go out of her way at bedtime, to make sure I knew how much she loved me. Our nightly ritual of saying prayers, followed by an actual hug and a kiss, morphed over time, into her sending me virtual squeezy hugs and kisses. One night while I was away, working on a project, she called my cell phone to say goodnight using this tried and true method. What ensued was having my work mates watch me perform our night-time ritual of  having the life almost squeezed out of me, as the doll gave me the mother of all virtual loving hugs. Following the hug, the doll would always add…  “MMMMMMMMM MWAH!!” Which I mock complained made my cheeks soaking wet. As the result, we both went to bed happy and feeling loved.

As far as the boy was concerned, while he listened and occasionally participated in the virtual hug and kiss, he preferred giving me the real thing before climbing into bed. The way I figure, to each his/her own–I get hugs regardless.

However, lately our nightly bedtime ritual has been reduced to something I call the fly by hug and kiss:

“Goodnight Mom” The doll will utter as she barely makes an effort to lean over and place a kiss just above my head, without really touching anything other than the air. Then she straightens herself up, turns and attempts to leave the room, barring any interruption from her mother.

You do realize, this is always a failed attempt on her part, right? “Um Doll, what was that?” I ask. “Mom, I’m tired and on my way to bed.” she replies. “Would it kill you to take a few extra seconds and actually give me a kiss or lean down and give me a hug?” I ask. In response I usually receive an eye roll or a frustrated sigh. On good nights, she’ll lean into me, pretending to give me a hug-yet the only one doing any hugging here is me-hugging her. She instead leaves her arms dangling free in front of her making faces as if she were being squeezed too hard.

Ah yes… the joys of teenagers.

Yet something different happened last night.. after arriving home late from a friend’s house, I was happily surprised to see both my children had “supposedly” put themselves to bed. After locking the front door,  I turned to see my doll standing in the living room looking back at me. “Hi mom. I literally was just going to bed when I heard you come in.” She said. “Hey baby, have you finished all your stuff?” I asked. “Yes…” she said but then added, “I wanted to talk to you about something though…” (*On a side note, the doll never wants to talk to me about anything-except right before bedtime…) she said. Taking a seat, I invited her to open up which she did. We had a nice conversation about her Volleyball team’s new focus on team work and trust; in the wake of their horrible play Saturday. Once our talk was completed, she thanked me and turned to go to bed. Realizing she forgot to give me the “fly by” hug and kiss, she leaned over to do just that, but stopped and asked, “Mom, what’s wrong?”

A momentary flash of genius jumped into my head and I decided to employ her same tactics of leaning in, but not giving much more as she came near. Shaking my head back and forth I said, “Oh I don’t know, sometimes I just need a better incentive for getting a hug” and then tried to walk past her. “Oh…wait…here…” She said, blocking my path and then invited me to receive a very nice-not to heavy nor to light-hug goodnight.  As we began to part she asked “Hormones?” Smiling back at her I only shrugged as she turned toward her bedroom.

Why I needed the better hug was inconsequential of course. The only thing that mattered was that she offered to give me one and I accepted. Now the only challenge will be is to not use that same tactic too often…less she catches on….

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