Monday 28 April 2014

Just One Kiss Mama

I sink into the corner of the couch. Legs pulled up to my chest. Phone resting on my knee. But the lack of space between my thigh and my torso always makes my son nervous. Nothing else should ever be on my lap but him. And when my lap disappears he wiggles his little arm into the empty space and pushes until there is room for his body. 

"Up please." The squeaky voice of toddlerhood. His many demands are now bookended with please and thank-you. 

Diego is on the TV screen and Facebook is in my hand. Our attention is diverted but we connect as I mindlessly stroke his soft hair. His legs curl until he's a ball of love on my lap. My thumb scrolls past a newsfeed of baby announcements and the gym tales. His body bounces and he pushes his fist in the air "vamanos!" 

Without thinking I rest my head on his and kiss that tender spot that still sometimes smells like baby. Which he is not. Seventeen kisses later he jerks his head away and turns to face me. A tiny crinkle forms between his brows. "Ma, why do you always give me so many hugs and kisses? I like you to stop doing that and just give one. OK?" 

And so it begins. My baby is putting limits on my mamahood. A one kiss maximum rule is implemented. And it takes everything in me not to hug and kiss him to infinity and beyond. This is the tragedy of parenthood. Your job is to teach them to grow up and away from you. And it's both joyous and too painful for explanation. 

This tiny human is understanding expectations and setting boundaries. He's negotiating. He's becoming someone. Not just my soft and gushy unformed being but his own person. I'm proud. And terrified. 

The next morning I greet him with "good morning" and before my lips touch his cheek he reminds me. Like a stern elementary school teacher with an important homework reminder. "Just one kiss Ma. Just one."

His lips are chapped but he wipes the balm away as quickly as I can apply it. In the car the dryness burns and his squeaky voice makes his discomfort known.

"You need stop the car and kiss my owie." He demands. And then remembers, "please."  I tell him that we are nearly home and as soon as we get there I will put cream on his lips. But he doesn't want cream. He wants a kiss. And immediately. We go back and forth until finally I remember that I'm not actually in a hurry to get home and pull over into the nearest parking lot. I open his door and give him, just one, kiss firmly on the lips. 

"There. That better," he says. And he means it. To his mind there is still magic in my kiss. The power to fix chapped lips and skinned knees. He believes that my love can heal his minor afflictions and like the velveteen rabbit that belief makes it real. 

And although my kisses are now being limited, I'm relieved to know that, for now, they are still magic. And as he's counting them I'll be sure to make each one count. 

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