Monday, 3 August 2009

I have cuddly children ...

... and I don't mean in the "Gee, I can't say they're fat. I know! I'll call them cuddly" kind of way.

I mean in the "I want you to stop whatever you're doing and give me a hug right now" kind of way.

Despite the fact that I am very much a "stay out of my personal space unless I invite you in" kind of person, I actually quite like the fact that they are always willing, and more importantly wanting, to give me cuddles or to just sit on my lap to watch TV. Not that they can do that much any more because as well as them getting bigger over time, my lap has gotten significantly smaller! And I'm sure their butts are getting bonier as they get older .. no extra padding for any of them in that department!

To save my sanity, I set some ground rules when they were very young along the lines of asking for a hug and respecting the fact that it was my body they were hugging .. not some soft toy without feelings or sore spots. The reason I made/make them ask is that when Andrew was a baby, Alex would quite often pick very inappropriate and dangerous times to decide to hug me, or my legs. After a couple of near falls and almost dropping Andrew, Alex just had to learn that it was too dangerous. It has helped with Alex in that being autistic, he quite often can't read body language or is unable to interpret it correctly, so by asking both he and the 'hug-ee' are aware of what's going on and coming next. It also helped to reinforce the concept of personal space for him as stepping inside the circle of my arms was stepping into 'my' space.

A lot of people I've come across are horrified that the boys had/have to ask for hugs, but once they see how often the kids want a hug and then how often I actually refuse it tends to reassure them that I'm not damaging them in any way. They take the few refusals with good grace as they know there will be another time and that by refusing them this time, it doesn't mean I love them any less. I actually think that it is helping them to respect boundaries and will hopefully stand them in good stead for when they have a girlfriend who says no.

Of course, all bets are off if it's in public .. actually it's all hands off in public .. but currently only for Alex. He is a teenager after all .. it's just not cool to hug your mum in public .. and God forbid she should kiss you and leave lipstick on your cheek .. that's the worst!!

(note to self: go buy the brightest red lipstick you can find for 'those' times when he needs to be reminded of who is in charge around here!)

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