Wednesday, October 24, 2012

On the topic of hugs

I didn’t start out as the best hugger. A tentative hugger at best, I was saddled with certain reserve that prevented me from recklessly falling into an embrace. As someone of Italian decent, hugging should have been part of my DNA, like making pasta, right? Alas, not so.

Thanks to my mother, I did learn to make good pasta. Hugging was another story. Though my mother tried, I just couldn’t get past my inhibitions. I spent my formative years (and well beyond) slipping out of the arms of relatives whenever possible to avoid the awkward moment of the dreaded hug.

So how did I land with Sam, blessed with a big heart and an insatiable appetite for hugs? Good question. Maybe God has a very strange sense of humor.

Sam has always craved deep pressure. At infancy he loved being swaddled. As a toddler, a hug calmed him and brightened his smile. By 5, Sam’s most frequent request was, “Squeeze ‘em!” As such, the avoidance tactics of my childless years were no longer and option.

For the last 17 years I’ve practiced. Big hugs, little hugs, shoulder hugs, hand hugs, foot hugs and hugs in every shape and style. The more hugs and squeezes I provided, the more Sam demanded. At some point we agreed 5,000 hugs was the right amount of daily hugs.

Here’s what I’ve learned. When you shoot for 5,000 hugs each and every day, you become a lot more comfortable. It’s that practice makes perfect thing. That and a good teacher, of course. Lately I’ve even been thinking I've finally mastered the hugging thing.

This weekend, when Sam asked for his first of 5,000 daily hugs, I provided my best, down to your bones kind of hug. With that he paused, pulled up to his full height and smiled down at me grandly. Then he shouted, “Go team go!”

Has hugging become a competitive sport? Great idea. The world could use a few more hugs. Is Sam telling me I am good enough to be on his team? I hope so. 

Bring on the competition. I’m ready.


  1. I love this one!
    I also avoided hugs as a kid, except when I went to my Italian best friend's house because I knew it was fruitless. ALL her aunts and uncles wanted to hug me every time they saw me and I wasn't even a relative! Kathy would say, "Auntie Bahbra, don't hug Kristen, she's not Italian." And Auntie Barbara would say, "But I'm so happy to see her!" Squeeze. It used to make me giggle.
    Then my own relatives would come over to my house and I would wave.
    Also I remember when I was working with Sam, towards the end of that summer, he would lean against me and though it wasn't 'officially' a hug, it felt like one, because I knew it meant he was comfortable with me. And I really LOVED that. :)
    It is funny, God's sense of humor.

    1. Oh I understand! My aunt insisted on big hugs (she was my Irish aunt). She would make me practice with her but I just didn't have her hugging ability. As for Sam, I can confirm he was quite happy to be with you - and that little girl Mary Ellen? You know, the little peanut that was the kindergarden love of his life...