It started out simply enough: I love my son and I like to give him kisses (smoochies) when he goes to bed or when I leave him. So at a very early age I could say “Give daddy a smoochie,” and he would turn his head toward me, lips offered up for kissing, no pucker. That’s how it started. Simple.
Along with kisses, however, naturally comes hugs. So it wasn’t very long before “big hugs” was added to the night time ritual. I say “Can I get big hugs?” and he will lay his head on my shoulder for about two seconds, sometimes three if I’m lucky.
At one time Liam liked to hit us. It wasn’t in anger, it seemed to be more of a way to release built up emotion. Most of the time he was happy when he would let loose with a wild smack. So we taught him “nice touches.” When he would hit, we would take his hand and put it to our face, where the smack had just landed, and we’d tell him “nice touches, buddy.” For awhile he would smack, say “no, no” and then do the gentle touch immediately afterward. Now all we have to do is ask for “nice touches” and he will gently stroke our cheek. I somehow incorporated this into the goodnight/goodbye routine.
The most recent addition to our ritual is the ever popular “head-butt.” He, for some strange reason, has always enjoyed bonking his head into mine when we rough house. So a couple of weeks ago we bonked heads, on purpose, and I said, “that’s a head-butt.” Then I bonked him again and said “head-butt.” Then I just said, “head-butt” without bonking him and he bonked me. A tradition was born.
Liam is not and never has been a very cuddly child; he doesn’t sit still long enough to be cuddly, unless he’s not feeling well. And when he’s hurt, he doesn’t much care for coddling or comfort. When we put him to bed, we don’t get to hold him or rock him or anything. The minute you’re in his bedroom and the light goes off, he’s leaning toward his crib saying, “night night.” The routine came about as a way to get him to stay in my arms long enough for me to vent all my daddy lovey dovey feelings onto him. So each night I go through the whole routine, sometimes twice, sometimes until he’s tired of it. “Give daddy smoochies.” “Big hugs.” “Can I have nice touches?” “Give daddy a head-butt.” And he obediently performs each part of the ritual, leaning toward the crib and saying “night night” between each part.
I wonder what silly act will become part of our routine next.