I wonder when my kids stopped hugging me and I wonder because today one of my work colleagues 8 month old granddaughter was in the office and kept giving me great big smiles and when I held her at one stage buried her head into my shoulder.
At some stage my sons – who are now 23 and 21 – stopped hugging me. When did that happen? Was it something I unconsciously discouraged? Was it because I stopped doing it to them first?
Our family have always been kissers. Whenever we saw family we kissed them hello and goodbye. I remember when I was about 12 or 13 my Grandad said to me “Son, you’re too old for that now. It’s time we started shaking hands.” And I never kissed him or my other Grandfather or uncles again.
I don’t remember when I stopped doing the same to my own Dad but it was probably around the same age. I can remember the last time I hugged him and that was at his 70th birthday in 1998, but if you asked me the time before that I would have to say that I can’t remember.
I have been hypnotized a couple of times in the past year or so and one of the revelations surprised me. I went back to a time when I was around 4 years old and I was in bed at night calling out to Dad to ask him for a drink of water. Dad was an alcoholic and would often come home drunk and inevitably when he walked in the door at night there would be a verbal altercation with my Mum. I used to lie awake and wait for him to come in and when I heard him I would call out for a drink of water. It was only under hypnosis that I realized I wasn’t calling out because I was thirsty but because I knew when I saw him that he was safe and I could go to sleep.
He would come down to my bedroom, give me a drink, say good night and then disappear until I woke up the next day and saw him sober and spruced up ready for work again. I don’t remember when he stopped kissing me goodnight just as I don’t remember when I stopped kissing my own sons goodnight.
I have never been overtly affectionate, but I still get a kiss from my daughters and an occasional hug but I didn’t realize how much that meant to me until the last year when I haven’t seen them every day. I do miss that day to day contact.