We’re halfway to school this morning when my first-grader informs me: “Kisses are gross, Dad. Why do you have to hug and kiss me in front of the whole school?”
I knew it would come.
I admit I’m a moosh. I love to hug and kiss my children at any opportunity, especially on their naked bellies or just after they hop out of the tub. But the first-grader is a boy, and this is just the first step toward when he’s a teenager, and I have to drop him off a block away when he goes to see a friend.
“Well, I suppose I don’t have to do kisses, but I need hugs.”
We keep walking as I scramble to think of a middle ground.
“How about I hug you across the street from school, then you can cross by yourself?”
That’s too close, he says. People could still see him there. We’re now less than 100 yards from school, but still around a corner.
“How about right here? And you HAVE to hug me. With your arms.”
I squat down and grab him in a bear hug. He squirms and flails, but doesn’t squawk too loudly. We round the corner, and he steps off the curb as the crossing guard smiles at me.
A friend watches as she crosses with her first- and second-grader by the hand and asks me, “Banished to this side of the street already?”
My son sprints across the schoolyard and toward the scrum of kids waiting to go inside. He doesn’t look back.