Wednesday, June 26, 2013

#160. or, OH, There Will be Hugs!

  Around 10 months ago, our youngest son, who also happens to be the last of our kids still attending school, started junior high. Over the course of this past school year, he also became a teenager.

  When he started this year, I decided that I was going to do my best to send him off to school each morning with a hug as a little fatherly moral support to help get him through the day.

  Now, we're not an overly huggy family. Besides my wife and I, of course. We're always hugging on each other. Oh, and when I've been drinking a bit, then I'm more than happy to hug on anyone who comes around. I'm talking about doling out the hugs when it comes to my sons.

  I think I may have gotten that from my dad. I know he was fond of me and all, it's just he wasn't one to physically express himself like that to me.  He was more the type to express his affection by taking me fishing with him. Or maybe get some quality bonding time in by going fencing together, that hot morning after I came home a little hung-over from partying a bit too heartily the night before. Things like that, just to let me know he was thinking of me. But not so much the hugging.

  Anyways, as my sons got older and it occurred to me just how fast they were growing up, I've tried to add things here and there to let them know I had an interest in their lives. The morning hug thing I've tried to implement, is my latest attempt to achieve this end.

  The thing you need to know here, and you can consider this the public service announcement portion of this post, is if you are going to one day out of the blue start hugging on your son, you really really need to start doing this before he becomes a teenager.

  I suspect there's the possibility you could trick him into letting you hug him everyday. Maybe if you were to one time give him a hug out of the blue for scoring the winning goal, or after they've excelled phenomenally at some academic achievement, then milked that as an excuse to continue the hugs each day until it just becomes the thing you do? But something like the 1st day of grade 7 probably isn't going to be enough to fool him. Most likely, you're just going to end up with him looking at you with that mixture of fear and confusion as you stand there with your arms wide open, waiting for him to return your embrace.

  Luckily, I have a lot of persistence.

  So, everyday that I was able and in the house when my son left for school this year, I gave him an awkward hug before he left. Probably about 80% of the school days that he had. Maybe it was just that I wore him down or it might have been my imagination, but I thought toward the end of the year, he was actually waiting for me to come and hug him before he went out the door. It could have also been those 2 times I followed him out of the house and half way down the driveway in my pajamas to get my hug when he tried to sneak off without it.

  ..................Maybe having your dad standing at the bus stop in his pajamas with you, waiting for his hug is more embarrassing than just getting it over with in the house?


77 comments:

  1. I think this is awesome. Embarrassing, awkward, whatever. Your kiddo will appreciate it when they get a little older. I still cringe when I think of how un-demostrative my family was when I was a teen and how much I over compensate with the hugs and kisses for my own kids. Hug on Ken!

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    1. Hi Becky!

      I think maybe it just wasn't something that happened all that much a generation or so ago? I'll try to make up for what I've missed out on up to this point. :)

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  2. Sounds like a wonderful plan! And your son will remember and appreciate this. Just continue it throughout the next five years, and the rest of his life.. :)

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    1. Hey BB,

      I think in less than 5 years, he's gonna be bigger than I am. He might be more well equipped to fend me off? :)

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  3. I love this! My 13 year old hates me hugging on her, but there are days, she lets me and I love it. One day she won't even acknowledge me....

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    1. Hi Jules,

      We had one that completely disappeared whenever he was around us and one we almost couldn't get rid of. It's funny how each one can be so different. It's going to be interesting to see what will happen with number 3.

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  4. Ha ha I can just picture you and him standing out there by the street waiting for the bus. I don't think he was going to be able to pretend you 'weren't with him' at that point.

    Ah the many joys of being a teenager.

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    1. Hey Holly,

      He made sure to never let me get right out to the end of our driveway. We may live in the country, but our neighbours are close enough to have their kids see what's going on when he's standing there.

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  5. PUBLIC hugging? In front of the school bus and everything? Ai yi yi, what's this world coming to?

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    1. Hi Debra,

      About a month ago, when we went on that museum field trip, I tried to give him a hug in front of all of his friends before we all went to sleep for the night. He figured out what I was up to and was pretty careful not to let that happen! :)

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  6. That's sweet :). I don't hug anyone, ever.

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    1. Hi Annika,

      On purpose? They say, if you hug somebody for like a minute or something, it starts releasing endorphins in your body and your start feeling better.

      If I get a few rum and cokes in me, I become a non discriminative, hugging machine, maybe you need some rum and cokes? :)

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  7. Can't be worse than the Dad who wore a different costume every day at the bus stop, right? I think it's very sweet.

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    1. Hi!

      That's a pretty inventive dad! Maybe next year? :)

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  8. My parents seldom showed me physical affection and I was determined that this not be repeated with our son. I've made a point of hugging him over the years and I'm glad I did.

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    1. Stephen!

      I'm certain that you did the right thing. I suspect it's going to be way more common in the generations to come than it ever was in the past.

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  9. Oh my - I would have hugged my Dad too if he'd been standing in the drive in his PJ's! Good for you for showing your son that you are there for him - I'm going to wager that this is something he will do for his own kids in the future just because you showed him another way to love :)

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    1. Hi Cheryl,

      The 1st time was in early winter, so it was pajamas and winter boots. I was actually glad I didn't have to follow him too far because I wasn't really dressed for the weather.

      I'm certain the tradition of embarrassing his children will be passed on. And maybe the hugging as well. :)

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  10. Aw, that's sweet! I love the image of a dad at the bus stop in his pajamas. My teens get embarrassed if I look at them in public. One's and hugger and one isn't, and they've always been like that. Fist bumps come in handy.

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    1. Hi Marcy,

      Fist bumps! I have to remember that. :)

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  11. This has never been the issue with my kid ...at 24 I swear if I asked him he would drive back home across two states to give me a hug...and he is not above calling me with a phone hug or to ask me to come up for the weekend because he needs one. He's not even a mamas boy but he was always really huggy ...maybe cuz his dad wasnt...not sure why but I love it!

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    1. I was going to add that he recently got married to his hs sweetheart who used to always say her family wasn't huggy but she learned to love it because he was so much so. I don't think my grandkids will have a problem there, but who knows maybe it skips a generation?

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    2. So hugs might be contagious? I like the thought of that! :)

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  12. Love it, way to go, Dad!! When in doubt, embarrass them, right? :)

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    1. Absolutely! We have some wonderfully embarrassing pictures of our kids, saved for when they get married. :)

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  13. Good for you, he will never admit it but I bet that deep down he likes it -- unless it really was the pajama incident.

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    1. I'm thinking that it was really a little of both. :)

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  14. I LOVE this. I like to think that he was waiting for the hugs. Hugs are worth it and even if it's a little late and a little awkward it is such a lovely lesson to teach your kids! Made me smile and hug my husband just once more tonight.

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    1. If my post generated a few more hugs happening in the world, then I guess that makes me smile too! :)

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  15. Dear friend Ken,

    This warms my heart. GOOD FOR YOU. And good for your son because he IS benefiting from this daily practice of hugging his Dad. How priceless for him, especially down the road when he is a father and when he thinks back to his growing up years. This is just awesome, and I think it is VERY cool how intentional you are in this endeavor. Pajamas and all, you rock!!!

    We're pretty huggy in our house. We hug each other as we leave, and return most every day. When our son arrived home last Christmas he had the sandwich hug right there in the entrance. It was a Folger's coffee commercial moment, for sure. :)

    Look at it this way - physical contact actually has health benefits so yay for hugging!

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    1. Hello, my friend!

      I don't think he really ever expected me to carry it on all through the year. I know there were days when I would get caught up doing something and would almost miss him, then would have to go running to the porch to catch him before he left.

      I think your huggy house is a good thing! I guess I wouldn't have minded if my dad had been more of a hugger, it's just hard for me to picture him that way. He was always the tough old farmer. He had funny in him, but he was tough. There was a few hugs though, when he was in the hospital before he passed away, so it's not like I have no memories of that. :)

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  16. Ken, this is great. I love that you made a pact with yourself to hug your son every day before school, and I love how you describe the thinking behind it, and the awkwardness and the pajama part at the end. I wish more dads hugged their teenage sons - I'm convinced it would be a better world if they did.

    Karen

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    1. Hi Karen,

      There's another part to this that I never mentioned. We had watched a movie that I don't even remember what it was, but when the couple sent their son off to school, they didn't want to say, "have a good day" because they didn't want to put too much pressure on the kid. Instead, they said, "have the day you have" or something like that. That's what my son got with each of his hugs. Have the day you have.

      The hugs were enough pressure on the kid. :)

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  17. Love this and that you fought through the awkwardness. Did you see the site Jester Queen mentioned where the dad dressed in a costume to wave at the bus? Hilarious embarrassment.

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    1. Hi Kirsten,

      There was plenty of awkwardness going on!

      I didn't see that site. I'm going to go and google that because he sounds like and awesome dad! :)

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  18. What a lovely picture you paint there. I have conditioned my boys to hug me every single morning before I leave for work. Granted, I'm a mom, so it's easier with mom/son hugging, I think, but I always say "I need my hugs!" before I walk out the door, and they must come running to me providing hugs. They are well trained. They are way younger than teenagers, so I guess I'm doing it right?

    Great piece.

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    1. Thank you!

      "I need my hugs!" I may need to try that, although I'm not sure he's going to be as eager as your kids seem to be. I think it might be a bit easier when you're the mom. Maybe not, but who doesn't want to give their mother a hug? I think you're doing it right:)

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  19. Hehehe :) I'm not a big hugger so I totally get the awkwardness. But it's better he knows you care, right?

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    1. You're absolutely right! It is better he knows than be wondering. And the awkwardness isn't so bad, you get used to it, you should give it a try? :)

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  20. I come from a family of huggers, so this post made me smile. I definitely didn't appreciate the affection in my teenage years, but I'm so glad my parents persisted. :)

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    1. Sometimes it's hard as parents of teenages to keep trying when you can tell they don't really want anything to do with you right then. But I think persisting is the right thing to do.

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  21. we're not big on hugging in my family. I grew up without verbal I Love You's too. now with my own little family, it's all about the hugs and kisses and I Love You's. and it always will be. even in my pajamas out of the house if need be. :)

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    1. You gotta do, what you gotta do! Even if it is in pajamas. :)

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  22. I come from a family of huggers too, so I love this post, and I love the image of you in your pjs at the bus stop.

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    1. If you seen me in my pajamas, you might not love that image quite so much! ;)

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  23. You sound like a wonderful dad. I hope your son knows how lucky he is to be chased for a hug (if he doesn't, he will some day, I'm sure).

    I hug my son so much he complains about it. I tell him it's so that he never ever in his whole life doubts my love for him. He doesn't understand. Some day he will, I hope.

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    1. I'm sure that it will be something that stays with him forever Michelle. Like I hope it's going to stick with my kid. Maybe not right now, but perhaps when a bit of wisdom starts to creep into that teenage head of his.

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  24. Love this! I have two teenage boys and are basically used to me hugging them, but when they are not ready for it they look at me like I have two heads. Someone mentioned fist bumps above, those are great too. :)

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    1. I like the idea of the fist bumps too. And teenage boys hold the monopoly on the "have you got two heads!" look. :)

      Thanks for the follow as well. :)

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  25. "It could have also been those 2 times I followed him out of the house and half way down the driveway in my pajamas to get my hug when he tried to sneak off without it."

    Nah. That couldn't be it :)

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    1. ......I didn't really think so either. :)

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  26. Ha! Halfway down the driveway... Yeah, it's better to get the hug inside the house than outside...

    I'm huggy, too, but can get away with it because I'm the mom. And because my son is 8 and still loves to sit in my lap. I know those days are numbered...

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    1. If you keep it up, I'm sure he'll just keep wanting them from you. And yes, I think it's somewhat expected from a mom. Not so much from your grizzled old dad. :)

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  27. My dad wasn't a hugger, either, not until we got older & I think he missed us being little. I'm not a hugger either, come to think of it, but I try more to be one now that I'm older. It's good for me.

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    1. I think it really IS good for us.

      And I miss my little guys as well.

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  28. For some reason hugs make me feel awkward... Maybe I need more practice?? I can't recall my dad ever hugging me...

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    1. For the life of me, I couldn't recall my dad ever hugging me as I was growing up. I think it was a tough guy generation.

      It's a good awkward though, isn't it?

      Thank you for the follow as well. :)

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  29. I've never been a hugger - but my father's stroke many years ago and having kids has softened that somewhat. Now I'm more of a collapse-into-your-arms-so-I-don't-fall-down sort of hugger. Still feels good.

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    1. I always hug my wife before she leaves for work. Sometimes it's a quick, "see you later" hug. Sometimes, it's a long, "good god I'm going to miss you today!" hug. But it always feels good. I hope I can teach that to my son.

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  30. I love this!! and your son will remember it always. never too late. until, of course, it is too late. ;)

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    1. And then, it really IS too late. I think I may have caught it in time. :)

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  31. I love this! I love your humor and sincerity. Well done.

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  32. Keep at it, Ken. They get over it once they get past the teenage years. My son is 25 now and he still gives me hugs and says "love you dad."

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    1. Those teenage years can be quite a test. I think they check their common sense when they go into them, and pick it back up when they come out the other side?

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  33. I love everything about this post. I love how schmoopy you are and how lucky your kids are. And us!

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    1. Thanks! I didn't know I was schmoopy, but I asked my wife, and yup......schmoopy! Who knew? :)

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  34. Aw, love you more than ever :) That is just so cute. And I especially love the idea of you following him out of the house in your jammies to get your hug. The thing about teens is that no matter how much they protest, they really do secretly love affection.

    I remember even when I was a teenager, I would hug and kiss my dad and stepmom every night and tell them I loved them. It was what we did. I didn't always feel it, but it was mandatory for my dad. Now that he's gone, I'm so glad that I always knew he loved me and that we always expressed it to each other.

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  35. This is wisdom in action. You are young to be so smart. I raised two children through the 'tough teens'. Not that excited about parent affection then but both have since thanked me for the connection and assurance that even on the bad days they are loved.

    Huge fan

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