The same scene plays out every morning between 5:30 and 6:00. Jesse calls out for mommy or daddy, and we draw straws to see who gets to fetch him. Soon he is nestling into a sliver of space between Ana and me in our bed and ordering up whatever movie tickles his fancy. Some folks might call him spoiled, but I don’t think he’s spoiled at all. He’s just a little boy that feels good when he is close to his mommy and daddy.
For most of Jesse’s life, it’s been just him and mommy and me along with our two dogs in the house. Jesse loves his sisters, and he feels lost without them, but he likes his time alone with mom or dad or better yet, the three of us together before the girls get up for the day.
We are very affectionate with our kids, they need that, and it makes a huge difference in their development when they get lots of hugs and kisses and snuggles. But Jesse is a boy, and there is a genetic difference in how he and his sisters interact and share affection.
He is three now and growing like a weed. He isn’t much of a baby anymore, so snuggling soon gives way to his vivid imagination, endless energy, and his natural compulsion to be a boy.
When his feelings can be contained no longer, he throws himself across my chest and demands, let’s fight! That’s when the growling starts, and I wrap him up in my arms and start rolling him around the bed, crashing him into pillows, blowing zerbits on his belly, and tickling him. His go-to defense is to wrap his arms around my neck, bury his face into the side of mine, and he laughs. And growls. All in hopes of bringing the villain, me, to my knees. After a few minutes, I lay there in a crumpled heap, defeated by the forces of good, and we go back to snuggling and movie watching. It’s his way of hugging me, being close, and playing together.
I know the day will come when those battles come to an end, but it won’t be because I told him no. I imagine he will stop asking because he’ll have other more important young boy things that fill his morning. He won’t love me any less; he just won’t be that little boy anymore.
So call him spoiled, point an accusing finger, and tell us how we are coming up short as parents if that suits you. Please forgive me for not hearing, or listening or paying much mind. I have a little boy that is dying to be close to his daddy, that wants to feel loved, important, and connected to the big man that keeps him safe and fed and loved.
And I have a fight I need to get to.