“Kisses Are Gross”

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.

I negotiated.

“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.


3 responses to ““Kisses Are Gross”

  1. I hear you! My son stopped public hugging in 1st grade, my dgtr in 3rd. We do private hugging and plenty of arm-around-the-shoulder stuff w/my 14 yr old son. Plus, he still (believe it or not) calls out each night to tell us he’s going to bed. This is our cue to go in, kiss him on the forehead (which he “wipes” off and puts on the wall) and tell him we love him. The 11-yr old girl still cuddles up with us if we’re watching tv together and gives us bear hugs where she wraps her legs around our waists (which is cool since she’s only about 4″ shorter than me now).

  2. I think that I’m luckier with having just girls, and they’re southern girls at that. Also being a single mom (called Marmee because we lived in a little house for little women–I know, sick) all of those years made us especially close. There were a few years in there when it was touch and go in public, but the friends were always throwing their arms around me for hugs and kisses, so it was cool for my girls to keep doing it. Even today, we hug, kiss (even pecks on the lips!!), walk arm in arm, cuddle in bed to watch scary movies, and are just generally affectionate. I thank God every day that it turned out this way!!! Whew!!!

  3. I dread that day but am well aware that it is coming. Will, I am happy to say that Brennan (son) still demands a hug and a kiss smack dab in the middle of the playground during drop off everyday. Your piece reminded me of how lucky I am. Good for us providing strong male role models via public display’s of goopy affection.

    Rock on dad!

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