the weight of physical closeness..

I miss holding my baby in my arms. I miss my baby’s willingness to be held tight in my arms. He was about one year old (up to one year and a half), when he started teething regularly. He used to ask me to sit on a chair, in front of the computer screen, to grab my hand and place it atop the mouse and wait impatiently on my lap for Shrek, Cleopatra Stratan or Lilo and Stitch to work their magic on his gloomy mood. He used to have me sit and hold him tight for hours on end. I’d get bored watching the same things over and over every morning and afternoon, I’d know by heart the Gummy Bear lyrics, I’d try to persuade him to go out for walks or play in the yard and all he wanted was to just sit there, nipping his dummies with his pointy teeth. I remember thinking how boring it all seemed, how the only thing I liked was his physical closeness, his smell, his body warmth, his fingers clasping my left thumb and his feet dangling. I used to caress his head and fair hair and clean his ears with special cotton tabs. Every now and then I managed to clip his nails and that was nothing short of a real victory!

I remember enjoying the neverending tenderness that his fits of non-playfulness used to bring about. It was then that he let me kiss his neck and nose, that he let me count the ribs through his shirts and massage his feet through his socks.

I miss this time enormously now, and it is just a few months away! He now sits by himself on the same chair, he turns on the computer by himself, selects Windows 7 and then calls for me merely to play one of another of his favourite cartoons. He never sits calmly for more than 5 minutes and he resents being kissed, hugged, pet or held. I feel sad when he rejects my hand, when he pushes me away and when I sense that I’ve crowded too much upon his personal space to be accepted. I feel as if I haven’t made the most of what was once so willingly allowed. I wish I could turn back the time in order to grasp just moments of the past and clutch him back in my arms, feeling as safe as humanly possible.

The past is not ours to bring forth, so I leave the past in the past. I enjoy the closeness he allows when giving him his showers and bath. He talks to himself in the mirror, he greets himself Hello and Goodbye and he sometimes kisses his own reflection. He is then extremely cheerful, he toys with the toothbrushes within reach, he drops the soap behind the washing machine, he squints and squats and checks with me if he is allwoed to do all that he wants to do. I sometimes forbid the obviously risky ones and I try to make him feel as if he’s deciding what leg is to be washed next and which shampoo we should use. He is genuinely happy when being washed and he sometimes turns towards me, kisses me and plasters his wet head on my neck, as if he’d been doing that all day. He sometimes pets me with his tiny hand and wrings his pointer into one of my nostrils, mumbling a smiley ma-ma-ma. This is the new form of accepted tenderness and closeness and I now know not to treat it lightly.

Children teach us the proper way of seeing life if we take the time to pay enough attention to how and why and when they do the things they do.

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